Roger Federer back at Wimbledon for Center Court’s 100th birthday

He wore a navy suit and black tie instead of the regular white tennis outfit, but Roger Federer returned to Wimbledon amid around 20 other former tournament winners invited to celebrate the center’s 100th anniversary short. Eight times titled Balois was celebrated.

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The first non-working “Middle Sunday” in history (we sometimes played there when it was necessary to catch up on the program after rainy days) went straight into tournament history British Mixing filmed evocations, singing tour (Cliff Richard sang in particular summer holidays a cappella), humor and parade of old glories. In addition to Roger Federer, we noted the participation of Martina Hingis, who won the women’s singles in 1997 and who had had a leisurely lunch with her daughter and mother, Melanie Molitor, in the Players’ Lounge an hour earlier.

From Angela Mortimer, the doyenne (90 years old), winner of the 1961 title, to Novak Djokovic, crowned six times and defending champion, around twenty former winners have performed on Center Court and under the bright sun. Some were struggling to walk, like Rod Laver, another was both presenter and guest (John McEnroe), others were in tracksuits, back from training, like Simona Halep and Rafael Nadal, or preparing for the upcoming game, like Novak Djokovic and his coach Goran Ivanisevic.

No exit voucher for Boris Becker

Among the other personalities present: Lleyton Hewitt, Marion Bartoli, Pat Cash, Stan Smith, Stefan Edberg, Petra Kvitova, Andy Murray, John Newcombe, Chris Evert, Bjorn Borg, Venus Williams and Billie Jean King. Now controversial tennis figureformer Australian player Margaret Court Smith, holder of the all-time record for Grand Slam wins (24 including 3 at Wimbledon), was there and applauded.

The main absentees were Pete Sampras, Martina Navratilova (present in London but ill with Covid-19), Serena Williams, Steffi Graf and her husband Andre Agassi. Neither does Boris Becker: the three-time tournament winner has been serving a 2.5-year sentence in Huntercombe prison since April for tax evasion.

The presentation, which entered the champions in ascending order of their victories, therefore skipped the three legends with seven titles (Sampras, Graf, Serena Williams) and did not climb to nine (Navratilova). With his eight titles on the London lawn, Roger Federer was therefore the last to receive the most applause.

“It’s something special to be here in a different role”

“I’ve played here so many times, I’ve known my greatest joys and also my greatest disappointments,” said Federer at the microphone. It’s special to be here in a different role, but I’m happy to be joined by so many legends of our sport. I hope that one day I can come back, come back again.” When asked about his best moments in the tennis temple, the Basel player named his victory over Pete Sampras for his first match on Center Court in 2001 and his first final victory in 2003 against Australian Mark Philippoussis.

Roger Federer missed the tournament this year for the first time since 1998, the year he first competed as a junior. He has not played at all since his quarter-final defeat in 2021 against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz. Injured in the knee, operated in August 2021, he wants to return to the Laver Cup in London this fall and then to the Swiss Indoors in Basel. “It’s been a long year but a great year. I’m happy at home, my kids are happy to see me,” he said.

Kilian Feldbausch qualified for the juniors

Arriving by plane from Zurich the same morning, Roger Federer was accompanied by his father and his trainer Severin Lüthi. After the ceremony, he appeared on a balcony with a bird’s-eye view of Court 7, where Nicholas Godsick, the son of his longtime agent Tony Godsick and former US Champion Mary-Jo Fernandez, was playing his first round in junior boys’ singles, clearly lost to the Belgian Gilles Arnaud Bailly (6:2, 6:0). Shortly before, Kilian Feldbausch from Geneva had easily qualified on the same place at the expense of the American Leanid Boika (6-1 6-4).

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