He wore a navy blue suit and black tie instead of the regulation white tennis outfit but Roger Federer made his return to Wimbledon, amid around 20 other former tournament winners invited to celebrate the Centre’s 100th anniversary Short. The Balois, eight times titled, was wildly acclaimed.
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The first non-working “Middle Sunday” in history (we sometimes played there when it was necessary to catch up on the program after days of rain) immediately entered the history of the tournament with this very british mixing filmed evocation, singing tour (Cliff Richard notably sang Summer Holiday a cappella), humor and parade of old glories. In addition to Roger Federer, we noted the participation of Martina Hingis, who won the ladies’ singles in 1997 and who, an hour earlier, had lunch quietly in the Players’ Lounge with her daughter and mother, Melanie Molitor.
From Angela Mortimer, the doyenne (90 years old), titled in 1961, to Novak Djokovic, six times crowned and title holder, around twenty former winners have thus appeared on the Center Court and under a beautiful sun. Some were struggling to walk, like Rod Laver, another was both presenter and guest (John McEnroe), others were in tracksuits, back from training, like Simona Halep and Rafael Nadal, or preparing for the upcoming match, like Novak Djokovic and his coach Goran Ivanisevic.
No exit voucher for Boris Becker
Among the other personalities present: Lleyton Hewitt, Marion Bartoli, Pat Cash, Stan Smith, Stefan Edberg, Petra Kvitova, Andy Murray, John Newcombe, Chris Evert, Björn Borg, Venus Williams and Billie Jean King.the former Australian player Margaret Court Smith, holder of the absolute record of Grand Slam victories (24, including 3 at Wimbledon), was there, and she was applauded.
The main absentees were Pete Sampras, Martina Navratilova (present in London but suffering from Covid-19), Serena Williams, Steffi Graf and her husband Andre Agassi. No Boris Becker either: the three-time winner of the tournament has been serving a 2.5-year prison sentence in Huntercombe Prison for tax evasion since April.
The presentation, which entered the champions in ascending order of their number of victories therefore skipped the three legends with seven titles (Sampras, Graf, Serena Williams) and did not go up to nine (Navratilova). With his eight titles on the London turf, Roger Federer was therefore the last called and the most applauded.
“It’s special to be here in another role”
“I’ve played here so many times, I’ve known my greatest joys and also my greatest disappointments,” Federer said at the microphone. It’s special to be here in another role but I’m happy to be accompanied by so many legends of our sport. I hope to be able to come back one day, come back again.” Asked to select his best moments in the temple of tennis, the Basler cited his victory over Pete Sampras for his first match on the Center Court in 2001 and his first victory in the final, in 2003 against the Australian Mark Philippoussis.
Roger Federer missed the tournament this year for the first time since 1998, the year of his first participation as a junior. He has not played again at all since his quarter-final lost here in 2021 against the Pole Hubert Hurkacz. Injured in the knee, operated in August 2021, he plans to return this fall, to the Laver Cup in London then to the Swiss Indoors in Basel. “It’s been a long year, but a great year. I am happy at home, my children are happy to see me,” he said.
Kilian Feldbausch qualified for juniors
Arrived the same morning by plane from Zurich, Roger Federer was accompanied by his father and his trainer Severin Lüthi. After the ceremony, he appeared on a balcony with a bird’s eye view of Court 7, where Nicholas Godsick, the son of his longtime agent Tony Godsick and former US champion Mary-Jo Fernandez, was playing his first round junior boys’ singles, clearly lost to the Belgian Gilles Arnaud Bailly (6-2 6-0). Just before on the same court, the Genevan Kilian Feldbausch had easily qualified at the expense of the American Leanid Boika (6-1 6-4).
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