See Roger Federer share tears and laughter with CNN’s Don Lemon after losing to Andy Murray at the 2011 US Open, August 4, 2011. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
A couple of weeks ago, Roger Federer and I were having lunch at the Savoury Swiss restaurant on London’s South Bank. It was just before he was to go to Wimbledon, his first grand slam of the year.
Roger Federer and I at a restaurant off the main road in Southwark on July 30, 2011. (Photo by Tom Jenkins/Getty Images)
He was telling me how much he was enjoying his tennis at Wimbledon and I joked that he should go there to play “Tennis with the Devil” as the restaurant seemed to have named it.
He didn’t react as expected. His laugh ended up being the most polite that I have ever heard him produce on a tennis court.
Roger Federer in action at Wimbledon. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
And then there were the tears.
This guy can’t get going to a match.
He told me he had been told to expect great crowds but even so, couldn’t get out to Wimbledon. You’d walk into the restaurant and he’d take the first table and he’d take a seat there, right by the wall.
He couldn’t get to a court.
And then he made the best choice of all, he made Wimbledon his excuse.
He asked me if I wanted to go to Wimbledon to cover it for the BBC, which I would have enjoyed more.
I said “no thanks, I’m really enjoying the BBC coverage of Wimbledon and I really like being back in London.” Not much of a Wimbledon fan, I said.
But he said “okay,” and that’s the last thing he said to me.
As I got up to go, he said “bye.”
He made it to Wimbledon, where he played two hours and 21 minutes, going out in the first round to Novak Djokovic, who was ranked #2.
Roger Federer at Wimbledon. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)