Tennis participation throughout the U.S. continued its growth on every measurable level in 2008 with more players, nearly 26.9 million, mixing it up on the courts than at anytime in the past 15 years according to The United States Tennis Association and Tennis Industry Association. The days of being able to guarantee an available court at your local park are gone.
Many factors have undoubtedly played a role in making tennis more popular again including TV coverage of professional tennis, the relative inexpensiveness of the sport and the fact that it’s good exercise. Another big reason for the increased popularity is the number and quality of stars at the professional level. None of the stars shine brighter than Roger Federer.
Roger Federer, a class act on and off the court
Federer is on the verge of tieing the record set by Pete Sampras for most Grand Slam single titles won. In tennis, the Grand Slam events include: Wimbledon, The U.S. Open, The French Open and The Australian Open. The Swiss star is noted for his stylish game and is capable of winning in so many ways. Jimmy Connors said of him, “In an era of specialists – you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist or a hard court specialist — or you’re Roger Federer.” John McEnroe has referred to Federer’s forehand as, “the greatest shot in our sport.” He spent a record 237 weeks ranked #1 in the sport.
In addition to his mastery on the court, his actions and manner off the court have set him apart. Always gracious in victory and defeat, he finds a way to treat everyone with respect. A former ball boy, he is known for not only funding pizza parties for the ball boy teams after events, but also on occasion showing up and sharing in the festivities. Respectful of officials and opponents, he sets a great example for younger players.
His Roger Federer Foundation “supports education, sports and leisure activities in places with little or no funding at all.” A Goodwill Ambassador for Unicef, Federer helped the United Nations launch the “International Year of Sport and Physical Education” with Kofi Annan in 2004. Following the devastating tsunami of 2005, Federer led several fundraising initiatives including the ATP All-Star Rally for Relief, a fundraising exhibition event featuring top players in tennis.