He may be retired from the courts, but Roger Federer is still a world-famous star for whom all doors are easily opened. All of them? No. The 41-year-old Swiss tennis player recently had a bitter experience of this, especially in the very place that made him a household name: Wimbledon. Two weeks ago, he was in London to get a second opinion on his sore knee, and once the appointment was over, he thought it would be nice to have tea at the All England Club before flying back to his family. Big mistake.
“We’re going, but I’ve never been to Wimbledon when the tournament wasn’t going on,” he recounted in a preamble to an interview on American television on The Daily Show, a popular comedy talk show on Wednesday. I drive to the guest entrance. I get out of the car and tell my coach Severin Lüthi that I’m going to talk to the security lady to see how we get in. I go over and start, ‘Hi, I was wondering how I can get into Wimbledon: where is the door?'”
The Basler doesn’t know it yet, but it’s the beginning of a bewildering and frankly destabilizing dialogue of the deaf for him, who was for a long time the master of the London grass.
Do you have a membership card,” the security lady asks him.
- Do we have one,” said Federer (who automatically became a member of the club after winning his first Wimbledon title without needing a card). No, I don’t have one. But I’m a member of the club and I’m just wondering how to get in.
- Yes, but you have to be a member of the club.
- I am a member. Normally when I’m here, I play and there’s a lot of people. So I come in another way. And this is the first time I’ve been here when the tournament isn’t going on, so I don’t know which way to go in.
- It’s the other way… But you have to be a member of the club”, his unyielding interlocutor retorted.
I’VE WON THIS TOURNAMENT EIGHT TIMES, PLEASE BELIEVE ME
And Federer, increasingly confused, continued: “I look at her and I start to panic. And I’m sorry I did that, because I still feel bad that I did it, but I look at her and I say, ‘I’ve won this tournament eight times, please believe me, I’m a member of the club. Where can I go home?'” But nothing to do, even this argument-massue doesn’t work. So the Swiss man gets back in his car, drives around and out near another potential entrance.
“A random person on the sidewalk says, ‘Oh Mr. Federer, my God! I can’t believe you’re here at Wimbledon. Can we take a selfie?’ And I say, ‘Yes, let’s take a picture!’ And the security guards who are there realize this and say, ‘Oh my God, Mr. Federer, what are you doing here? Do you have your membership card?
The situation was beginning to resemble the episode of the madhouse in Asterix’s Twelve Labors. But to Federer’s great relief, the agent in question was quick to open the doors for him. And the Basel native was able to share a cup of tea with the president of the All England Club before returning to his family. “When I came out, I thought of going to the other side to wave to the lady and show her that I had entered, but I didn’t,” he concluded, hilariously. Not a grudge-holder, Roger.
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