Roger Federer admits he feels ‘lighter’ after retiring: ‘We’re not machines, we’re human beings’

Roger Federer press conference Credit: Alamy
Roger Federer press conference Credit: Alamy

Roger Federer has opened about the mental battles that players face each and every day when they play on the ATP and WTA Tours, saying you can only live a normal life once you retire.

After nearly 25 years as a professional tennis player, Federer retired in September after struggling to recover from a serious knee injury.

The Swiss great started his career as a 17-year-old back in 1998 and when he finally packed his racket away for good, he had just turned 41.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner admitted that the travelling, constant planning and other obligations that come with the job makes it very difficult to relax when you are still playing.

“As a tennis player you’re always thinking about your next practice, your next match. It never lets you go, your next travel, your next packing,” he said.

“I don’t think I was that much aware of it, how much that thought is always there, and it rides with you, until you retire and then you realise that stress all drops away.

“Doping as an example. We have to fill out doping forms every single day, one hour during the day, where you are. You’re always aware in the back of your head, they could be coming any moment, especially in that hour.

“Once that all drops away you actually feel lighter, relieved that you can actually live normally again after 25 years.”

In the past players used to retire early if they struggled with the demands of professional tennis, but Federer feels they can take an extended break to recharge instead of packing it all in.

“When players retire at a super young age, I totally understand it. We see it from time to time. I always feel it’s such a pity, because there could still be so much going on in the future,” the former world No 1 said.

“I see players are trying to stay on the Tour longer, and maybe also what’s happened in the past is that players do realise you can take three months off, or six months off, or a year off, and still be able to come back again and give yourself a rest.

“The Tour is tough…the travel, the practice, the jetlag. Nobody is allowed to say, ‘I’m tired today,’ because it looks like you’re weak, and that’s why players sometimes end up with mental problems.

“You’re supposed to show strength. But we’re not machines, we’re human beings.”

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