Roger Federer is backing longtime rival Novak Djokovic to win Grand Slams ‘for a long time to come’ after the Serb set a men’s record with his 23rd at Roland Garros.
Djokovic brushed aside Casper Ruud in straight sets at Roland Garros to draw three from Federer and one from Rafa Nadal.
But there was no jealousy or ill will from Federer, who was back on a London court for the first time since retiring at the Laver Cup last year.
“I thought what Novak did was amazing,” Federer said at an event in Greenwich.
“Honestly, it’s great for tennis, great for the sport when tennis writes its own history and keeps adding to it like we’ve seen with Serena Williams too, Rafa then myself and now with Novak.
Roger Federer was in east London to help open two refurbished tennis courts for local children
He raved about Novak Djokovic after winning his 23rd Grand Slam title in Paris
“It’s a great moment in tennis to also be a fan, but also a player.”
Federer was in town in his role as Mercedes-Benz ambassador, helping to open two new courts in the borough of Greenwich as part of his Neon Legacy project.
The renovation and design of the Street Courtyard, located in the Bostall Gardens, was carried out in collaboration with the famous post-graffiti art duo Low Bros – brothers Christoph and Florin Schmidt from Berlin.
And with many local schoolchildren in attendance, Federer was asked about everything from Djokovic’s success to whether he resented having had such fierce competition during his career.
‘I remember when I came on tour, and Pete Sampras turned 14 [slams] we thought ‘Okay, this one is going to stay forever,’ Federer added.
“Then I went at 15, finally finished at 17, then we pushed each other to 20 – I can’t remember who was first – then Rafa pushed it to 22.
“Then Novak pushed him to 23 and it looks like he’s going to continue to do that for a long time to come, which is great. And I wish him all the best.
“I also think about how he still does it – he’s not the youngest anymore, we forget. He looks young and he does it in a young way, but it’s not easy, and I thought it was an amazing win. So I couldn’t have been happier.
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have been at the top of the sport for two decades – but Federer was also keen to stress his admiration for Andy Murray, who has been there with the trio for years.
Mercedes-Benz Ambassador Federer took photos with local school children at the launch
He even grabbed a racquet to get a hit as he showed he still had it despite retiring in 2022
Federer was asked by visitors about his idols and how he finds life as a retired player
Murray is still fighting despite a major hip resurfacing and for his sheer commitment to the game, Federer is a “huge fan”.
“Andy is a special man and I’m very happy that he can still play. He loves it,’ Federer added.
‘He really likes her. With all the complications he’s had with his hip it’s amazing how he’s still going and I think we should all give him a good kind of applause if you will because what he’s going through and what he is accomplishing with what he has been through is amazing.
“Funny enough, he just won a Challenger, I believe in Surbiton last week. I played that in 99, lost in the semis. And he won the same week that Novak reached that incredible record of 23 slams , which also deserves so much respect.
“So I’m also a big fan of Andy and I wish him all the best for Wimbledon because it’s his best surface in my mind, especially these days.” So I hope he will win many, many rounds at Wimbledon in a few weeks.
Federer joked that he was enjoying the retired life and had taken on a new job as a “professional driver” for his four children.
He praised Andy Murray as an inspiration for his continued desire to keep playing
He still holds numerous sponsorship commitments, including with Mercedes-Benz, and is set to be back in London for the start of Wimbledon at the All England Club in a few weeks.
“You know, I have to say, retirement life is great,” he concluded. “I was just talking before that the best part of being retired is just not having to put the body to the test.
“Of course, I always like to go on the tennis court, especially these days with my children. So every time I have the opportunity to get back on the tennis court, it makes me very happy. And especially even more so here in London where I have had such a great story in terms of results and memories, of course, over the years. The Olympics, the O2 Arena, and then also Wimbledon, so I added another court to my collection [today] it’s a beautiful one. Very special.’