'Wake-up call': Roger Federer opens up on devastating tragedy

Riley Morgan
·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Roger Federer (pictured) looking dismayed during a tennis match.
Roger Federer (pictured) has opened up about his rough junior experiences and the 'wake-up call' that sparked him to take tennis more seriously. (Getty Images)

Roger Federer is arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, but the 20-time Grand Slam champ has opened up on his rough junior days and his doubt over making it professional.

Federer recently spoke to BecomingX, which is an organisation started by Bear Grylls to showcase stories of influential stars to help inspire people around the world.

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The 39-year-old global superstar opened up about his challenges when he was a junior and his struggles playing tennis away from home at such a young age.

Federer recounts the first game he played, which he lost 6-0, 6-0, and was doubting his talent.

“I kept on practicing hard, I started playing more tournaments,” Federer said.

“I started to become very successful also, even as a junior, at least in my area. Nationally, I became Junior Swiss Champion for the first time when I was 12 years old.”

But a few years later, Federer left his family to join the National Tennis Centre in Switzerland.

The Swiss maestro said he became very homesick during this period.

“And off I went at 14 to the National Tennis Centre. I was in a great family from Monday to Friday and then I would only come home on the weekends, and I'd be incredibly homesick for the first nine months,” he added.

“Results dropped, I lacked confidence, couldn't speak the language, I really struggled.”

Roger Federer celebrates after winning a match.
Roger Federer celebrates after winning a match. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Federer credits these years as the most formative of his career.

“It was quite a rough journey,” Federer said.

“I think those were the two most influential years of my life, from 14 to 16. Being away from home, persevering and having that responsibility to figure out the things, sort of on my own sometimes.”

The tragedy that shocked Roger Federer

But Federer credits the majestic way he plays today to the guidance of former mentor Peter Carter.

Carter died in a car accident in 2002, which rocked Federer.

However, the Swiss maestro said the tragedy prompted him to ‘switch gears’ and take tennis more seriously.

“When I was 16, Peter Carter joined the NTC and he became my mentor,” Federer said.

“If I play the way I play today, it's probably because of Peter.

"Obviously, the news totally shocked me and rocked my world.

“In some ways, it was truly a wake up call.

This is when I guess I shifted gears and I was just like let's get serious about tennis, very serious."

Federer took a back seat in 2020 and announced he would be sitting the remainder out, after the Australian Open, due to a knee injury.

But the 39-year-old excited fans with a recent photo, which showed him back in training.

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