It is difficult to wrap your heart around defeat. We see it with all the players, day in and day out, and Roger Federer is no different, regardless of the loss, its magnitude, or when it happens. His quarter-finals shocker defeat, at Wimbledon, is no different, either, although many seem to have given him thoughts that weren’t his to begin with.
I don’t want to see you cry
I know that this is not goodbye
Those are not Federer’s words. They are not mine, either. No. They are Bono’s, in Kite. Somehow, I find them fitting to the occasion. In fact, I could’ve taken the whole chorus and the words would fit, but the last two verses of it were the ones that came to my mind when I saw the various tweets and comments asking if it was the last time that we had seen the great Federer on SW19’s Centre Court.
The Swiss says that he doesn’t know. It is only normal. He will turn 40 in 31 days. He just had his best performance after two (I repeat: two) knee surgeries, in a defeat that was, yes, crushing. All his losses hurt him, and always have. Still, I find it preposterous to ask any athlete the “R question” in the minutes following a difficult loss. As much as I understand that it is the moment to ask those questions, since it is a press conference, I still find those specific questions a little intrusive. That’s why I’ve never asked them, personally, and never will. No, I won’t fault anyone for asking them, because it is a job that must be done.
However, asking the “R question” to someone when they haven’t yet wrapped their mind on everything that happens, on the feelings attached to it, is something that is difficult for anyone to answer. And I commend Federer for having answered as truthfully as he always does, putting his feelings aside.
With a month to go until he turns “the big 4-0” (as he said in an interview, last week), it is only normal that he will want to take time, with his team, to assess the future. The positive is that he did say that it is in terms of goals, not in terms of stopping or going on.
Personally, I will follow his journey to the end, no matter what he does. Because I know that the present, and the future, are not the reflection of the greatness of the prime but, rather, of the love he still visibly has for the game that made him the greatest in very many ways.