Roger Federer’s curious mix has become clearer and clearer over the years: fierce forehands meet and greet different-from-the-rest fashion, fancy fineries and a celeb lifestyle with a Swiss twist. While on court, Roger would dominate with his imposing strokes and will, off court we got creamy cardigans, tuxedo stylings, military jackets, flashy visits to runway fashion shows, metro hip looks, dreamy haircuts and schmoozing with Tiger Woods, yachtsmen and the uptown editor of Vogue. Plus, there’s that frequently seen personalized “F” (for Federer) insignia and, most recently, after winning Wimbledon and his 15th major he sported a freshly minted jacket that had “15” embroidered in gold on the back. Wow! The rather stunning (self-congratulatory and seemingly in Andy’s face) move again seemed to display Fed’s confidence and preparation, his awareness of history, and the unhesitating (“don’t worry, be proud”) manner in which he appreciates all the Federerian wonders that swirl about him.
But the move aroused questions. Critics quickly scoffed that old school Rod Laver would never in his wildest dreams have ever conceived a ‘look-at-me’ gesture like this? So was this merely an innocent enough (“so-what-else-is new”) non-event well within the mainstream of the dominant (braggadocio/“we’re No. 1”) sports culture which Muhammad Ali jump-started years ago. Writer Jon Wertheim framed the question: “[Is] Roger wearing all his stylish Nike gear, especially the jacket, a cool expression of a fashion happy style conscience guy who’s unafraid to celebrate his obvious and incredible accomplishments or is it the vain, effete, off-putting gesture of a self-absorbed, self indulging super star.”
Later in Montreal, Roger would explain that he wore a jacket with a huge “14” on it to his press conference after winning the French and nobody said a thing. At Wimbledon, he explained, someone simply handed him the jacket after he won and he just put it on spontaneously. “[BBC broadcaster] Sue Barker asked me about it on Centre Court,” recalled Roger. “She made a big deal out of it and that’s why people thought it was classless or a bit arrogant, especially towards Andy. But it’s got nothing to do with that. I was just very proud to have won the tournament.”
But then, just to amp up the water cooler chatter, word emerged that (unlike mere mortals who, when they go to the U.S. Open, stay in a kind of cramped cubicle for $229 a night) Roger bivouacs in a collection of rooms — “The Roger Federer Suite” no less — at the Carlyle, Manhattan’s she-she Madison Avenue hotel (for merely $3,075 a night or say about $60 grand for the tournament). The suite has a plaque announcing how many Slams the Mighty Fed has won and here the man (who delights in embroidery and monograms more than any other guy in tennis history) naturally has his own customized R.F. monogrammed pillows.
According to a report in the New York Observer, Fed’s suite features “a sleek little kitchen…a long living room with a white orchid, a gargantuan quasi-Picasso, two giant shiny black vases, a giant antique-mirrored disc that looks vaguely cocainey and…a master bedroom with a leopard-print rug, four mirrored bedposts and a comfy-looking tub…[But] Mr. Federer apparently prefers the suite’s second bedroom…[that] some say…has better feng shui. A manager explained that “the bed is firm, but not too firm. His bathroom, coated in black marble and bands of gold trim, comes with products like Kiehl’s Crème de Corps…and there’s a bench in the shower! It’s cool, very relaxing.’”
Okay, Roger we get the picture. Here’s a dude who luxuriates in the lap of luxury. Thanks Roger for making it kind of easy, let’s peg him, shall we say, as a gentleman who appreciates the spoils of victory.
But wait, not so fast. This is Fed. Matters here are always nuanced. After all, this is the guy who not only has a fabulous charity foundation, he was a regular Joe, the people’s champ, who generously posed forever with all the kids and work crews at Roland Garros after winning the French Open.
Then, as soon as he got off the plane in Montreal to resume playing the circuit, he began to glow about both the mystical joys and nitty-gritty pleasures of parenting twins.
“Anything they do is special right now,” he told the Toronto Globe and Mail’s Tom Tebbutt. “I remember when Myla was born, I was with her and…the next thing I know is Myla opened her first eye and I was like ‘oh my God, this is amazing.’” Okay, but surely The Mighty Fed isn’t changing diapers. Wrong: “Absolutely, I am. I think it’s something you enjoy doing as a parent because you feel even more connected to the baby. You swaddle it, you change the diapers and afterwards they feel clean. The next thing you know they’re falling asleep when before they were screaming. That’s why nappy changing is completely normal for me.”
Even in a $3,075 night, feng shui-friendly Manhattan suite.