Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Roger Federer: Life After Tennis

Contributed by Jess Callaghan.
Regional Director, USA Sport Group.

Roger Federer has just recently won his 800th career tennis match, an achievement only matched by 6 other men in the Open era, but how much longer can he keep up this level of success? What options does the ‘Fed Express’ have for the coming years?

Ex-professionals have gone on to many things after their tennis careers have finished; some expected, some unexpected, and some have simply faded into complete obscurity.

Federer could follow the likes of Pete Sampras, Steffi Graf and several others who just can’t shake the tennis bug and have spent years endlessly taking part in exhibition matches, with the occasional charity match thrown in, most likely so they can feel good about themselves. Or, he may choose to use his status and position in the public eye to take charity work a little more seriously just as Andre Agassi has, founding the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which has raised over $60 million for children in South Nevada who are deemed at risk.

Maybe Roger could try his hand at politics. Marat Safin thinks it’s a good plan and is running for a parliamentary seat in Russia this year; I eagerly await the outcome of the vote in December. Pete Sampras is optimistic about Safin’s chances; he was quoted at the recent ATP Champions Tour in China as saying, “In 20 years, Marat will be the President of Russia! Trust me.” Okay Pete...

If boredom sets in, or Federer misses the tour too much, he could always stage a dramatic return, √† la Justine Henin or Kim Clijsters, who both retired relatively early from the game whilst still in their peak, only to return less than 2 years later. Although in Henin’s case, this wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and she retired again just over a year later.

How about he take the McEnroe/Becker approach, settling for the easy job of commentating whilst also ‘pursuing other projects’, the most ill advised of these must surely be John McEnroe’s attempt at becoming a rock star [insert clich√© "you can not be serious" joke here] forming The Johnny Smyth Band who, surprisingly, never finished their first album. He has also made many movie/television cameos and took charge of the U.S Davis Cup team for 14 months. Becker has had many a side project including online poker, a stint on British TV show They Think It’s All Over and the inception of the very modestly named Boris Becker TV, featuring clips from his career and footage of his daily life, which luckily for us, is broadcast in both German and English.

Finally, if Federer is ever short of a dollar or two, he could always follow in the footsteps of Martina Navratilova. Once the world’s best female tennis player, human and animal rights supporter and ambassador for underprivileged children, Navratilova took the always self-respecting decision to appear on celebrity reality television program I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. Subjecting herself to snakes, cockroaches, crocodiles, physical challenges and probably some unpleasant parts of a kangaroo’s anatomy... clearly worth it finishing runner up to a Z list celebrity.

It remains to be seen where the Fed Express stops next.

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