Tennis legend Roger Federer is not just renowned for his incredible skills on the court, but also for the deep bond he's nurtured with fans globally. This special connection has been particularly pronounced in Shanghai, China - a city Federer has visited and played in multiple times.
During a conversation on the ATP Tennis Radio Podcast, Federer recently reminisced about the immense warmth he's received in Shanghai over the years. The Swiss maestro stressed how fans in Shanghai would patiently wait for hours on end, regardless of the location – the club, hotel, or even the basement of his residence.
Such commitment was evident when, despite his wife Mirka's advice not to wait as he rested, fans stayed put, insisting they'd happily wait because Federer visits just once a year. His popularity in the city was even more evident when he spoke about an incident following a first-round exit from a tournament.
Federer was met by nearly 100 fans at the airport, singing songs of encouragement and expressing their eagerness to see him play the following year. The emotional scene saw many with tears streaming down their faces.
Federer's Shanghai Tribute
Federer's relationship with Chinese fans isn't just restricted to Shanghai.
He recalled how fans from Shanghai journeyed to Hangzhou to see him play an exhibition match against Alexander Zverev. Federer attributes this unwavering support to his consistent presence and performance and to the Shanghai Masters' organizers, who've been instrumental in fostering this bond through fan events and dedicated days.
Shanghai's love and admiration for Federer were highlighted recently when he was honored at the Shanghai Masters ceremony on October 13. The tennis icon received the first-ever 'Icon Athlete' accolade, a fitting tribute presented by Chinese tennis great, Li Na.
In an earlier statement from May, Federer expressed his enthusiasm about this recognition. The three-time Shanghai Masters champion reminisced about his inaugural visit to Shanghai for the opening of its stadium. He conveyed his eagerness to reunite with the city's ardent fans and said, "I'm very excited to be named Rolex Shanghai Masters Icon Athlete for 2023.
I look forward to seeing everyone in October." The bond between Federer and his Shanghai admirers is a testament to the universal language of sports, transcending borders and cultures.