Roger Federer says his four children are the reason for his tennis success

Tennis legend Roger Federer has praised his four children for helping him stay hungry during the last 10 years of his career, revealing that he would have preferred to retire a decade ago rather than leave them at home while he travels the world.

The legendary 20-time Grand Slam winner, who retired earlier this month, brought twin girls Mila and Charlene, 13, and twin boys Lenny and Leo, 8, to each championship with his wife Mirka, 44.

He admits that having his family was the subtle shift in approach he needed to continue winning championships through his 30s and into his 40s.

Roger Federer's four children, Lenny, Charlene, Mila and Leo, are watching him at Wimbledon in 2019

Roger Federer’s four children, Lenny, Charlene, Mila and Leo, are watching him at Wimbledon in 2019

Federer, who recently retired, told The Today Show that his kids kept him hungry for success.

Federer, who recently retired, told The Today Show that his kids kept him hungry for success.

He spoke to NBC Today's Savannah Guthrie for the first time since his decision was announced

He spoke to NBC Today’s Savannah Guthrie for the first time since his decision was announced

“[The girls] He was born at 09, right after I went, I think he was #1 in the world,” he said on The Today Show on Wednesday. The girls were born and from that moment on, 2010 and 2011, I didn’t win any championships.

I remember changing diapers, bathing girls, and just being a dad. But then when the boys were born, I mean, that rocked the boat, obviously, because going down the road with four kids every week was tough, to say the least.

‘Perhaps from being the dominant one I became the challenger.’ I also liked this role. I stayed really hungry the whole time.

Federer took his kids on tour and admitted he would have preferred to retire than leave them

Federer took his kids on tour and admitted he would have preferred to retire than leave them

Federer talks to Guthrie on NBC today about his decision to retire, and more

Federer talks to Guthrie on NBC today about his decision to retire, and more

Mirka accepts her son from Federer's Players Fund at Wimbledon during the tournament in 2019

Mirka accepts her son from Federer’s Players Fund at Wimbledon during the tournament in 2019

Federer’s career

Individual titles: 103

Grand Slam titles: 20

Highest Rank: 1 (for a total of 310 weeks)

Davis Cups: 1 (2004)

Hopman Trophies: 3 trophies (2001, 2018, 2019)

Olympic Medals: 2 (2008 doubles gold, 2012 singles silver)

When asked if he would consider leaving his four children in Switzerland with his wife while he continues playing on the ATP Tour, Federer was decisive in his response and insisted it was never an option.

“Oh, that was the only way,” he added. I said, “I’ll never go on the road without my kids.” And then better retire. Then I had to retire 10 years ago.

Federer married fellow tennis player Mirka in her native Switzerland in 2009, the same year they had their twin daughters.

The duo met at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where they were competing for their country, before Mirka retired two years later with a foot injury.

During her husband’s career, Mirka was accompanied by two family educators to tennis tournaments, until they quit during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The couple – who were two sisters – were said to have been longtime employees of the family, helping the parents take care of their four children.

In 2014, ESPN reported that a third nanny, as well as a teacher, was also hired to help educate the children, adding to the already huge support staff while traveling on the ATP Tour.

The 41-year-old has won a total of 20 major championships, the third-highest for men of all time

The 41-year-old has won a total of 20 major championships, the third-highest for men of all time

The Federer family was the all-time Australian Open finalist in Melbourne in 2020

The Federer family was the all-time Australian Open finalist in Melbourne in 2020

On the court, Federer won a whopping 20 Grand Slam titles, seven of them from 2009 onwards – when his first child was born.

Now, 41, he opted to suspend his racket earlier this month, insisting he wouldn’t follow in Tom Brady’s footsteps and backing away from the decision.

“You know, not feeling overwhelmed is a thing now. Are you done?” NBC Today host Savannah Guthrie said in the interview that aired September 21.

‘No no. Federer replied: I’m definitely done. “I know that, yes.”

The Swiss star, who has racked up 103 career titles and a record total of 1,251-275 (82 percent), announced his retirement via social media with an emotional statement.

“As many of you know, the past three years have faced me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries,” the statement read.

Federer has had some great matches with the likes of Rafael Nadal throughout his career

I’ve worked hard to get back into full competitive shape. But I also know my body’s capabilities and limitations, and its message to me lately has been clear.

I am 41 years old. I’ve played more than 1,500 games over the course of 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I could have ever dreamed of, and now I must realize the time is right to end my competitive career.

Federer’s last appearance came at Wimbledon last year, where he reached the quarter-finals. His last Grand Slam victory was at the 2018 Australian Open, when he became, at the age of 36, the second oldest man to win a major singles title in the Open era.

The legendary player – who won eight Wimbledon titles, an all-time record – is retiring as one of the greatest players to have ever played at the game.

Federer and another tennis player, Serena Williams, announced their retirement this year

Federer and another tennis player, Serena Williams, announced their retirement this year

Federer’s decision comes after a turbulent personal period as he had to undergo three knee surgeries in a desperate attempt to return to his former glory.

Injuries have limited the tennis legend’s appearances on the tour, and he has participated in just three of the 11 major tournaments held since the start of 2020.

In his statement posted on social media, Federer thanked his wife, Mirka, as well as his coaches, fans and everyone involved in his wonderful career. He also paid tribute to fellow competitors, such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – who lead the all-time Grand Slam standings with 22 and 21 respectively.

“I have been fortunate enough to play many epic matches that I will never forget,” the 41-year-old added in a video statement.

We fought fairly, with passion and strength, and I’ve always done my best to respect the history of the game. I feel very grateful.

Roger Federer’s full statement

To my family in tennis and beyond, of all the gifts tennis has given me over the years, the greatest have been, without a doubt, the people I have met along the way: my friends, my competitors, and most of all the fans who give the sport its life.

Today, I want to share some news with all of you. As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries.

I’ve worked hard to get back into full competitive shape. But I also know my body’s ability and limitations, and his message to me lately has been clear.

I am 41 years old. I’ve played more than 1,500 games over the course of 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I could have ever dreamed of, and now I must realize the time is right to end my competitive career.

The Laver Cup in London next week will be my last ATP event. I will play more tennis in the future of course, but not just in the Grand Slams or on the Tour.

This is a bittersweet decision, because I will miss everything the tour gave me. But at the same time, there is a lot to celebrate. I consider myself one of the luckiest people on earth. I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level I never would have imagined, for much longer than I thought possible.

I want to especially thank my wonderful wife Mirka, who lived with me every minute. She warmed me up before the finals, watched countless matches even when I was eight months pregnant, and endured my goofy sides on the road with my team for over 20 years.

I would also like to thank my four wonderful children for supporting me, always making sure to explore new places and creating wonderful memories along the way.

Seeing my family cheering for me from the stands is a feeling I will cherish forever.

I would also like to thank and thank my loving parents and my dear sister, without whom nothing would be possible. A big thank you to all my former coaches who have always pointed me in the right direction. You have been wonderful. And to Swiss Tennis, who believed in me as a young player and gave me a perfect start.

I really want to thank and appreciate my amazing team, Evan, Danny and Roland, and especially Sivvi and Pierre, who gave me the best advice and were always there for me. Also Tony, for creatively managing my business for over 17 years.

All of you are incredible and I loved every minute with you.

I would like to thank my loyal sponsors, who are truly my partners; And the hard-working teams and leagues on the ATP Tour, who have consistently welcomed you all with kindness and hospitality.

I would also like to thank my opponents on the field. I was fortunate enough to play many epic matches that I will never forget. We fought fairly, with passion and strength, and I’ve always done my best to honor the history of the game. I feel very grateful.

We pushed each other, and together we took tennis to new levels. Above all, I must give special thanks to my wonderful fans. You will never know how much strength and faith you have given me. The inspiring feeling of walking into full stadiums and arenas was one of the most exciting of my life. Without you, those successes would have felt lonely, rather than filled with joy and energy.

The last 24 years on the tour have been a great adventure. Although it sometimes seemed like it had passed in 24 hours, it was also so deep and magical that it seemed as if I had already lived a full life.

I’ve had a huge fortune because I’ve played against you in more than 40 different countries. I laughed and cried, I felt joy and pain, and most of all I felt incredibly alive.

During my travels, I have met many wonderful people who will remain friends for life, who have taken time out of their busy schedules to come and watch me play and cheer me on around the world. Thank you.

When my love for tennis started, I was a bull kid in my hometown of Basel. I watched the players with a sense of amazement. They were giants to me and I started dreaming. My dreams made me work harder and I started to believe in myself. Some success made me feel confident and I was on my way to the most amazing journey that has led me to this day.

So, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart, to everyone around the world who helped make the dreams of a little Swiss ball child come true.

Finally to tennis: I love you and will never leave you.

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