Roger Federer to students: «Here’s what tennis taught me»

Roger Federer he was already a doctor, thanks to the honorary degree in medicine obtained seven years ago from the University of Basel. And on Sunday, he did an encore. This time, it was the man who awarded him the degree (always honoris causa, but in humane letters). Dartmouth Collegea prestigious university based in New Hampshire.

At the end of the ceremony, Federer gave a speech to the audience made up of more than 11 thousand people in person and a few thousand more connected online. Twenty-five minutes with an open heart, during which the Swiss touched on several points: the beginnings in the tennis planet, the career, the retirement, the charity.

“I left school at the age of sixteen to play tennis full time and become a professional player.” Roger jokes about retiring. “I never went to college,” he says, “but I recently graduated with a degree in tennis! I know the correct wording would be “I have retired from tennis”, but the word retired is horrible. I too, like you, have closed an important parenthesis in my life and now I am opening another one.”

Federer then addresses the topic of professional inactivity. «They often ask me what I do now that I no longer play. The answer is I don’t know! Or rather, I do many different things. I am a dad and I take my children to school, I play chess online, I vacuum the house and above all I enjoy life».

The Swiss then recounts some passages of his long career. «Many times they told me that I played tennis almost without sweating and they complimented me for it. It wasn’t true, the reality is that I have always worked hard to make my tennis easy. And I spent years complaining and swearing and breaking rackets before I learned to stay calm.”

Federer explains to students the importance of the mind. «I understood during a tournament in Italy how important it would be to stay focused. Before a match, an opponent said that I would be the favorite for the first two hours, then he would become the favorite. He was right, everyone can play well for a couple of hours, when you are rested and your legs respond well. The problem comes later, with tiredness, physical and mental”.

«I tell you the truth, I didn’t get to be number one just through pure talent. I got there always trying to outdo my opponentsI believed in myself, in most cases it’s not about having the gift, it’s about putting in the determination and courage.”

Roger then gives the students another rule. «Tennis is brutal, tournaments all end the same way, one wins, everyone else loses. Imagine if today just one of you graduated…”

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