Roger Federer isn’t one to forget about his roots!
When Tennis TV showed the 38-year-old tennis champ a video of his days as a ball boy in Basel, Switzerland, Federer said he remembered it “like it was yesterday.”
“I kinda remember it, of course, you know, I did it for two years,” he told the outlet in an interview shared on Wednesday.
In the 1993 footage, a young Federer was handed a medal by Michael Stich, a decorated professional German player who won the men’s singles title at the indoor Swiss tournament that year.
“It’s a great memory for me,” Federer continued. “I loved being a ball boy here. I was able to see the best players in the world first-hand, and see how they would prepare, and how they would sweat, and how did they deal with the pressure.”
Federer looks back on those days with fond memories.
“It’s good moments for me,” he told Tennis TV, adding that he still has the medals he was given as a ball boy.
Now, Federer said he likes to pay it back to the current ball boys and girls.
“I still get them today actually from the ball girls and ball boys. And I have pizza with them at the end of the tournament. They also give me a medal,” he said. “I guess it means I’m still a ball boy, too, because at heart I’m always gonna be a ball boy.”
The fact that Federer values his ball boy-beginnings is no surprise. After winning Wimbledon for the eighth time this year, the champion said that staying humble is one of the most important traits an athlete can have.
“When I was a young boy I was asked in an interview once if I have a motto I live after,” Federer said in August at the launch of his new gamewear collection with UNIQLO in New York City. “And I said ‘It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice,’ because a lot of people sometimes take themselves too serious, or they think ‘I’m on top of the world,’ but actually you’ve achieved nothing yet.”
“So I think staying humble, working hard, being kind to people — it’s really important,” he said. “You want to stay the same guy. Never forget your roots, remember how important family is, your friends are and take care of them. You want them to take care of you too when you’re not doing so well.”
Federer has also spoken about the importance of respecting the young helpers, saying that some ball boys and girls could be the future faces of tennis.
“The ball kids are really important to us because they are also maybe the future of our game,” he told The Guardian last year.