As one of only seven male players to win all four grand slams, one of four to win the junior and men’s title at Wimbledon and one of two to win four different tournaments at least six times, Roger Federer can already boast membership to a number of exclusive clubs. Now, as a parent to two sets of twins, he’s gained entry to another. Three weeks ago, and four years after the birth of Maya and Charlene, his wife of five years Mirka gave birth to Leo and Lenny. Two girls and now two boys.
You can already get odds on a Federer sibling partnership walking home with the Wimbledon mixed doubles title in 2035, but right now he isn’t thinking about that. He’s bathing in the blissful afterglow of fatherhood for the second (or should that be fourth?) time. “They’re two weeks old now and, if you have kids, you know it’s the best feeling in the world. [The weeks after the birth] are a good time. Everyone comes to the hospital and wishes you well. When your wife recovers from the birth, you can be together as a family again. It’s been amazing.”
All of this calls for champagne, which is lucky, because Champagne is exactly where we are. Roger is here for the opening of a fine-dining pop-up at the Orangerie, a Moët & Chandon estate in Épernay. The Swiss has been a brand ambassador for Moët for the last two years, and you can see why the champagne brand was keen to sign him up: with his sharp whites and RF gear, “Federer” is synonymous not just with beautiful tennis but with beautiful living.
Then again, it’s always a bit odd when top athletes endorse alcohol companies. In all his unfaltering grace, Federer is the very pinnacle of sobriety. Or is he? “Today I had a glass of champagne with lunch and I might have one or two with dinner, because I know my next match is in five or six days.” He is finely attuned to the demands of his body; what it can take, when to hold back and when, occasionally, to indulge. Sure he keeps in excellent condition, but that doesn’t mean you can’t let go every once in a while.
“I know when I can drink and how much. Some other guys have crazy diets but I feel that with my experience I know what I’m supposed to be doing and what I’m not. And sometimes if you’re really in the mood, well, you should do it. It’s your life. I think it’s important not to be too serious about everything in life. You have to go with the flow, and, especially at this time in my career, it’s important to enjoy the moments when they come around.” So has he ever drunk a bit too much? “Sure, it happens.”
One of the things he’s enjoyed, particularly in the second half of his career, is the refinement of his on-court persona. “What I like about tennis is that we change our outfits 10 or 12 times a year, more or less every second tournament. It gives me a great platform for wearing different things... It’s bad if you lose, though, because then you get disappointed your favourite shirt wasn’t worn very long.”
He knows what he likes: “It needs to stay classic. My look is about focusing on the details and keeping it crisp. The important thing is that I feel like I’m wearing the clothes and the clothes aren’t wearing me.” But he still takes advice from a few trusted friends. When it comes to fashion, few opinions are more trustworthy than US Vogue editor Anna Wintour. “If I really like something but I’m worried it’s pushing it a bit too much, I ask Anna. I know she will give me a straight answer. Absolutely yes or absolutely no. She’s very sweet and a good friend of ours. It’s nice to have someone like that in our lives to bounce ideas off of. Not just in fashion but in life.”
But these are frivolous concerns. The French Open is around the corner, and for the first time in months, Federer feels completely fit. Last year a niggling back injury prevented him from performing at his best. He is keen to emphasise such niggles are nothing to do with age, “As a professional athlete you always have something going on. I have it more under control today than when I was younger. I’m more scared than I was, so I take better care of myself. I know my body much better – I don’t want to have to retire because of an injury.”
After a good year, how is the world number four feeling ahead of the French Open and Wimbledon?
“Over the last six months I’ve been able to get back to where I should be and now I’m not scared of five setters or back to back matches. Mentally I’m ready to play well. I’m ready to do something big at the French and I believe Wimbledon could be a really good tournament for me.”
I’ll drink to that.
Roger Federer is the global brand ambassador for Moët & Chandon. Tables at Moët & Chandon’s LE & at the Orangerie are €450 per person, available every Monday between June 9 – July 9, 2014 via moet.com