Roger Federer says he’s enjoying ‘living normally again’ and decreasing his stress levels since retiring from tennis in September. Federer is one of the most decorated tennis players of all time, winning 20 Grand Slam titles, but he said that taking time away from the sport could be the right option for players in need of a rest. The 41-year-old said tennis players are “humans, not machines”.
Roger Federer says he’s feeling ‘lighter’ since retiring from tennis and highlighted concerns that the need show strength on tour can weigh on players mentally.
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The Swiss legend, a 20-time Grand Slam singles title winner, stepped away from the sport aged 41 in September.
Federer is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, but he is enjoying his new life away from the limelight.
“As a tennis player you’re always thinking about your next practice, your next match. It never lets you go, your next travel, your next packing,” he said at a tennis clinic in Tokyo.
“I don’t think I was that much aware of it, how much that thought is always there, and it rides with you, until you retire and then you realise that stress all drops away.
“Doping as an example. We have to fill out doping forms every single day, one hour during the day, where you are. You’re always aware in the back of your head, they could be coming any moment, especially in that hour.
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“Once that all drops away you actually feel lighter, relieved that you can actually live normally again after 25 years.”
Federer also touched on the pressures that players face on tour, as a long 2022 season comes to an end this weekend with the Nitto ATP Finals.
The mental and physical demands of the tennis calendar can be overwhelming, and Federer said that taking time off can be the best option for struggling players.
“When players retire at a super young age, I totally understand it. We see it from time to time. I always feel it’s such a pity, because there could still be so much going on in the future,” Federer said.
“I see players are trying to stay on the tour longer, and maybe also what’s happened in the past is that players do realise you can take three months off, or six months off, or a year off, and still be able to come back again and give yourself a rest.
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“The tour is tough…the travel, the practice, the jetlag. Nobody is allowed to say, ‘I’m tired today,’ because it looks like you’re weak, and that’s why players sometimes end up with mental problems.
“You’re supposed to show strength. But we’re not machines, we’re human beings.”
The 41-year-old was also asked about what the future holds and wouldn’t rule out a move into coaching, despite underlining that he’s unlikely to do so soon.
“I’m the product of Swiss tennis, of the federation. I will always have that with me, which is why it’s hard to create my own academy, because I feel like that would potentially go against the federation who I am too close to,” said Federer.
“I think with the Next Gen development programme here at UNIQLO I will be doing more mentorship and inspirational kids day clinics for the moment.
“Coaching…I mean, never say never. Stefan Edberg said the same, he will never coach, until he got the phone call from me and I invited him over for practice and he said ‘ok, let me try for a year’.
“At the moment with my four children going to school and everything going on, I don’t see myself coaching at the moment. If a junior comes around and he needs some support or advice I’m happy to do that.”