Tennis legend Roger Federer has praised his four children for helping him stay hungry over the final 10 years of his career, revealing he would have preferred to retire a decade ago than leave them at home while he traveled around the world.
The legendary 20-time Grand Slam winner, who retired earlier this month, brought twin girls Myla and Charlene, 13, and twin boys Lenny and Leo, 8, with his wife Mirka, 44, to every tournament.
And he admits that being close to his family was just the approach he needed to keep winning tournaments in his 30s and into his 40s.
‘[The girls] was born ’09 shortly after I became it, I think it was number 1 in the world,” he said on the Today Show on Wednesday. “The girls were born and from that moment, in 2010 and 2011, I didn’t win a slam.
“I remember changing diapers, bathing the girls and just being a dad. But then, of course, when the boys were born, that shook the boat because hitting the streets every week with four kids was difficult, to say the least.
“And maybe I was the dominator, I became the challenger. And I liked that role too. I actually stayed hungry the whole time.”
When asked if he was considering leaving his four children with his wife in Switzerland while continuing to play on the ATP Tour, Federer was firm in his response, insisting it was never an option.
“Oh, that was the only way,” he added. “I said, ‘I would never walk the streets without my kids.’ And then I’d rather retire. Then I would have had to retire 10 years ago.”
Federer has won 20 Grand Slam titles, seven of them since 2009 and beyond – when his first child was born.
The now 41-year-old decided to hang up his racquet earlier this month and has insisted he will not follow in Tom Brady’s footsteps and not reverse the decision.
“You know, disruption is a thing now,” NBC Today co-host Savannah Guthrie said in the interview, which aired Sept. 21. “You’re done?”
“No no. I’m definitely done,’ Federer replied. “I know it.”
The Swiss star with 103 career titles and an overall record of 1251-275 (82 percent) announced his retirement on social media with an emotional statement.
“As many of you know, the last three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries,” it said.
“I worked hard to be fully competitive again. But I also know my body’s capacities and limitations, and its message to me has been clear lately.
“I am 41 years old. I’ve played more than 1,500 games in 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever dreamed and now I have to realize when it’s time to end my competitive career,” he added.
Federer’s last appearance was at Wimbledon last year, where he reached the quarterfinals. His last Grand Slam triumph was at the 2018 Australian Open when, aged 36, he became the second oldest man to win a major singles title in the Open era.
The legendary player who has won eight Wimbledon titles, an all-time record, is retiring as one of the greatest of all time.
Federer’s decision follows a personal, tumultuous period when he had to undergo three knee surgeries in a desperate return to his former glory.
Injuries have limited the tennis legend’s appearances on tour and he has only competed in three of the 11 Grand Slams played since early 2020.
In his statement shared on social media, Federer thanked his wife Mirka, as well as his coaches, fans and everyone involved in his stellar career. He also paid tribute to his fellow contenders such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who top the all-time Grand Slam rankings at 22 and 21 respectively.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play so many epic games that I’ll never forget,” the 41-year-old added in a video statement.
“We fought fairly, with passion and intensity, and I always did my best to respect the history of the game. I’m very grateful.”