“At age 24, Federer is gunning for his sixth Slam title. Refreshingly, he doesn’t do nearly as many endorsements as Andy Roddick and nobody’s clamoring about Federer’s ‘mojo.’ That modesty has endeared him in the locker room,” wrote Marc Berman in the Post.
Of course, since that time, as Federer’s Grand Slam total has ballooned from six to a record-breaking 15, that much-remarked-upon modesty has been a notable casualty.
Federer showed up to Wimbledon this year with an oversize, white-and-gold racket bag on his shoulder that looked like a chihuahua carrier. He wore a jacket adorned with laurel wreaths. (After he won the tournament, the jacket was also emblazoned with a 15—his major-championship total.) There was a little too much gold on everything he wore. He did commercials in which he pulled a wheelbarrow full of his Grand Slam trophies. He became a spokesman for a private-jet company.
“What’s most surprising to me is that Roger doesn’t seem to get it,” wrote Peter Bodo, the senior writer at tennis.com. “I suspect that the Nike designers and marketing folks must come to him and fill him up with a bunch of hooey about what an ‘ambassador’ he is for all things traditional and he goes all weak in the knees and capitulates to one cockamamie fashion disaster after another. The 14-time Grand Slam champ and budding fashionista turns commercial chump and, like some unsuspecting kid brother, lets his sister and her friends play dress-up with him. What next, lipstick and mom’s pumps?”
In an on-court interview after this year’s instant-classic Wimbledon final, Federer looked to Roddick and said he sympathized because he, Federer, had lost in the final the year before to Nadal.
Roddick responded instantly, hilariously, devastatingly: “Yeah, but you had already won five times!”
As a moment, it solidified Federer’s new position as the unseemly Apollo Creed foil to the more sympathetic Roddick.
Not that Roddick is in any danger of becoming a lovable-loser everyman. He’s a star, with a star’s looks. He’s still going to be described in the press, win or lose, as “brash.” He recently married the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker.
(“Spotting Decker in the stands looking like the picture of all-American cool has become half the reason to watch Grand Slam tennis and yet another reason to root for the tireless if sometimes overshadowed Roddick,” wrote Will Welch in the September issue of GQ. “More Andy means more Brooklyn.”)
Andy has always loved New York, and now we can return the favor.
Federer? He’s got his 15. What else does he need?
We’re here for you, Andy. Go out and win it.
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