When you play a balletic brand of tennis; when you waltz off Wimbledon’s Centre Court, trophy in hand and not a hair out of place; when you parlez-vous with reporters in five languages; when you amass 100 career titles, including 20 majors, folks begin to throw around the ‘P’ word.
However, Roger Federer, now 37 and in many minds the sport’s true GOAT, denies such a concept is attainable.
“People always elevate superstar athletes to superman status, like we’re superhuman,” said Federer, who’ll embark on his 18th BNP Paribas Open this week. “Then you get to meet us and you realize, ‘He’s just another normal guy. It just so happens he does great in what he does.’ I don’t see myself like that. Being perfect doesn’t exist. Everybody has their flaws. So do I. If I can make the game more popular, I can be good for fans, that’s great.”
“Most important for any athlete is understanding your own body,” he added. “What is pain and what is injury pain? What could result in an injury? Being able to play through that many times is going to happen. Sometimes being sick as well. But also knowing when to step off the gas and give yourself a break. At the end of the day, you need to have smart people around yourself that educate you in that way. And you have to buy into that idea.”