News and views from Roger Federer
An untouchable icon of his sport, he far transcends the confines of that sport. Chaperoned like a head of state, Roger Federer is the number one ambassador of the white cross. Although originally from Basle, this master of racquet artistry spent three years at the National Centre in Ecublens and he remains deeply attached to the city of Lausanne.
Managing to get five minutes face to face with Roger Federer is a bit like returning from Jerusalem with the Holy Grail. But once you are with the genius of the strings, the simplicity and humility of the champion serve only to strengthen the certainty that this native of Basle is among the greats of this world. What the collection of Grand Slam titles and the frequency of these achievements tend to make you forget is that Federer started his tennis career in the canton of Vaud and, more specifically, at the National Centre in Ecublens. When he first landed in the suburbs of Lausanne, young Roger had barely finished blowing out the candles on his fourteenth birthday cake. The other youngsters at the centre and the tennis amateurs remember a boy in whom an exceptional talent was detected immediately. And when, at the beginning of July 2003, the boy turned man lifted the Wimbledon trophy for the first time, these same people no doubt wore a little smile while telling themselves that the kid had finally realised his dream.
“No offense to the other cities where we played the meetings, there is a little something special to Malley”
“To be honest, it wasn’t easy having to pack your bags on a Sunday to come back to Lausanne, but I definitely don’t regret those times. I don’t have that many memories of Lausanne because I didn’t go out much. I went home to Basle at weekends, which is why I can’t name a particular place in the town where I liked to go. And I was quite young anyway, so going out at the age of 14 or 15 wasn’t the done thing. What’s more, given how tired I was by the end of the day, all I wanted was my bed! But this period was beneficial to my career, because it was at that time that I started travelling and I really matured. I will say that, for me, Lausanne has long been a beautiful town beside a lake.”
Malley, a unique venue
“You can immediately sense the enthusiasm that takes hold of the city whenever there is a sporting event. We all know the excitement generated by Lausanne HC in Malley, they have a fantastic set of fans who enjoy travelling to support their team. It’s a shame that Lausanne-Sport are finding it hard to get back in the first division, but you sense straightaway that Lausanne is a city that loves its sport. Is it the same as in Basle with football? Yes, you can compare the two atmospheres. But when the tennis is on, Lausanne becomes truly amazing. The energy that we saw during our stay in Malley in 2004 was impressive. It was during the month of April, I arrived as the brand new world number one and we had played France. In spite of the defeat, this occasion remains ingrained in my memory because of the public’s fervour. I can say that it was one of the best audiences I have ever played in front of and the best atmosphere of the Davis Cup. Without meaning to offend other cities where we have competed, Malley has a certain special something.”
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