Now let me start this off by saying that I am not that big of a Roger Federer fan. It’s not like I dislike him or have anything against him, it’s just that I’m more of a Rafa fan. Ask any of our Talk Tennis members, you can’t love them both. But Federer stopped by our tent this year at the BNP Paribas Open to sign autographs, and the way he carried himself and the way he was around his fans was unlike what one would expect from a super star athlete.
Here’s what happened:
Because it is 16 time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer coming to visit our humble tent, we had to close it down to the general public. Let’s just say fans can be, well, kinda fanatic. So we have the tent empty except for our employees, reps and a group 10 and Under kids. Roger shows up from the back entrance, smiling and ready to go. He greets the kids, takes pictures with them and signs whatever they wanted him to sign. But that wasn’t it, he took the time to talk to them, ask questions, engage with them, etc etc. He didn’t have to do that, but just those few extra minutes he spent with them made a world of a difference for those kids. He even took a few seconds to take a picture with our crew.
From there, he heads out to the mob of fans that have been patiently waiting for his arrival (some were in line for 5 hours). He smiles, acknowledges the crowd and takes his seat. The first 150 fans that were in line received a bracelet and guaranteed an autograph. Roger (yea, we’re on a first name basis) quickly goes through the 150 fans and that’s basically the end of his obligation. Every other player would get on their golf cart and ride on out. But not Roger, not this time. He gets up out of his seat and instead of heading for the exit, he walks toward the mob of fans. And at that point in time the security kinda freaks out a bit. But Federer goes about his business and proceeds to sign anything stuck in front of his face. He does this for a good 10-15 more minutes. Finally, he finishes up and goes back into our tent to leave. He thanks all of us for the help and is whisked away.
The thing is, he was there for no more than 40 minutes but could’ve left in 20 if he wanted. He could’ve gone through the motions and been a prima donna. But instead, he was gracious, humble, and made an effort to appear like he actually wanted to be there. And it made all the difference. Now I’m not saying that this one experience has me switching sides from Rafa to Roger, but let’s just say, it wasn’t just those fans in line that he made an impression on.