ATP Awards: Federer ‘overwhelmed’ by support of fans and peers
Roger Federer was looking sharp as he appeared at The O2 to receive three ATP awards, including an 11th fans' favourite prize
Roger Federer appeared in less familiar dress on Centre Court at the ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday.
No banadana, no Nike apparel, but instead an immaculately groomed figure in smart jacket, shirt and tie appeared, not to play a tennis match but to receive three rather special crystal awards.
This time, Federer was selected by fans, peers and the ATP not for his on-court achievements but for his off-court activities: the Fans Favourite Award for an 11th consecutive year; the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the ninth time; and the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for the second time.
“It’s a big deal, you know?” he said. “I’ve put in a lot of work as a player to perform on this kind of a stage, day in day out, so it’s nice to be recognised by your peers for the Sportsmanship award.
“It is very special, as Stefan Edberg was my hero growing up, when all I wanted to do was play on the ATP tour. So to follow in his footsteps is wonderful.
“I always try to play as fair as I can. Clearly it’s a tough world out there. You try to win, but I still believe it should be done in a fair manner. And I hope to carry that torch over that Stefan Edberg and many others have carried in the past to the next generation that comes along.”
He was clearly very moved to top the fans’ list yet again.
“It’s all a bit overwhelming to be honest. I have been around a long time, so I guess that helps. I appreciate all the fans turning up to stadiums around the world. You keep me working hard. I am forever grateful.”
Of course it has not just been to do with being around ‘a long time’. He first received this particular award in 2003, before he reached the No1 ranking.
He went on: “It’s so beautiful to receive on so many levels.
“I travel the world from January to November You’re never quite sure when you return the following year whether the support is still as incredible, or a bit worse, or maybe better, and very often I get so surprised how much crowd support I do get, especially a couple of times they’ve been behind me like crazy.
“And to get such support, I’m happy to take the time for an extra picture, the extra autograph, and spend time talking to them and try to give back as much as I can. Without a full stadium it’s not the same. That’s why these awards are very, very special.”
The Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year Award was given in recognition of his foundation’s support of children in Africa and Switzerland.
“It is something very personal on many levels,” he added. “I never thought that it would be possible as a young boy to establish a foundation. Arthur Ashe and Andre Agassi inspired me by their example.
“It is 10 years since we established the foundation. We hope to touch one million lives by 2018. It is an honour to receive this award for a second time.”