Roger Federer teamed up with Rod Laver, Pat Rafter, Lleyton Hewitt and Jo Wilfred Tsonga for his charity exhibition event, "Roger Federer and Friends" at the Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne.
All photos taken by me (federeblog)
We have all heard about the Federer effect, you know, the swarm of a crowd, the roar of an audience, crying, screaming, fainting, an overwhelming feeling of awe — all reactions that go hand in hand with seeing Roger Federer in the flesh. We hear about it, we read about it, and if you are lucky enough you see it, but to experience, and I mean actually experience it is something words can never live up to. No matter how well written, edited, or researched to experience it… well it is something you can never prepare for, something you can only ever hope to live through, and something you struggle to describe after it happens.
On the night of the 8th of January, I experienced the Federer effect first hand when I attended A Night with Roger Federer & Friends in Rod Laver Arena.
Y’know, before the night commenced, the MC told us that there are moments in tennis that you never forget, and then there are special moments, moments that etch themselves into your memory and stay there, and that tonight we would witness one of those moments. As evening that unfolded that slowly proved to be just about the most unadulterated truth I’d ever heard.
Yesterday I saw my hero hit up with Rod Laver, that alone is the stuff of dreams, but that was only the first few minutes. In the three or so hours that followed we were treated to three sets of stunning tennis, a completely unique and actually extremely emotional (you have no idea) live interview and an entire evening of uninterrupted Dorkerer - complete with the stupidest challenges you will ever see, smiling after every point and dad jokes. Perhaps the sweetest part of the night was that you could tell Federer was nervous. The man who has seventeen grand slam titles to his name was anxious about playing a little exhibition match for his foundation. To us, those nerves made it as clear as day how much he genuinely cares about this part of his off-court life, and made us, the crowd utterly united in admiration for him.
Last night makes it a fifth time for me seeing Federer play live (I am more thankful for that than can coherently admit), but seeing him live is not something you ever get used to. And it really is not something you simply see, it is an experience, one that leaves you dumbfounded every damn time. I am sure anyone who has been through it must know what I mean; for certain at least everyone in Rod Laver Arena that night did.
I never liked to think of Federer as above the sport, because he doesn’t think himself above it. But if ever I had cause to, last night would be it. Because tennis is emotion, it’s passion in the most pure form, and it’s a game that lets you feel in a way that you otherwise would not. But Federer, he inspires and ignites to such a degree I am not even sure tennis can.
After the match and interview yesterday, Federer made his way around a 14,000 strong arena signing autographs for well over one hour, and chatting to fans along the way. I was lucky enough to be standing front row as he did this, and as he made his way toward me I got in a few words. The conversation went something like “hi Roger, how was your night?” then he responded “great, how are you? Did you enjoy it?”, “*spluttering/dying inside*” then I congratulated him on the 10 year anniversary of his foundation and he thanked me. So in short, the greatest conversation I have had in my life. He then proceeded to sign my Official Program from the night, a photo of which will be posted shortly. Thank you for reading and thank you Roger Federer for an unforgettable night.