WARNING: I think the title says it all. If you want to maintain your pretense of a neutral tennis follower, then best scroll past this post all together.
I have gotten myself into a bit of a predicament by creating a new ritual: whenever Federer wins a slam, I shout all my friends to drinks. The result? My booming popularity coupled by a deflating bank account. Guess I should think twice next time before I yell those 3 magic words – “drinks on me“. Whatever, I’d rather be a pauper with drunken and disorderly friends than a rich bitch with none.
But why should my personal friends be the only ones to benefit from my “boundless” generosity? After all, it was to you – Anonymous-Blog-Readers – that I vented, ranted, commiserated and celebrated tennis over the past year. While I can’t really buy all of you Finlandia Mules, surely I can afford a round of cyber Kool-Aid instead? Hey, it’s not gonna break the bank.
So drink up my imaginary free Kool-Aid while I vent some more on what I consider to be utter bullshit this week.
Nikefied Asshole? AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
The thing is, I’ve tried really hard to take the high road. A part of me really can’t be fucked responding to claptrap. But if it’s threatening to piss on my bonfire while I celebrate the best tennis month I’ve ever had, then I’ve got to get it off my chest.
Let me preface by saying that I have no problems with anyone hating Roger Federer’s Wimbledon gear – it was highly risky fashion to start with. Nor do I care that a lot of people may be feeling more sorry for Roddick than happy for Federer right now. What I don’t like is how the media has branched out on those two premises into what I consider to be a personal attack on the Fed.
Among other things, Tennis.com, SI, the Times and the infamous Mirror have accused Federer of being arrogant, disrespectful of Andy Roddick, and classless. All this is apparently based on his post-victory interview and a jacket with an inconspicuous 15 on it.
Nevermind that Federer admitted he didn’t know about the 15 jacket beforehand - the fact that the jacket was a surprise from Nike was never really relevant in the media portrayal of “Jacketgate“. Instead, tennis fandom has used a gift from Nike to its most valuable player as the premise to launch some rather vitriolic attacks on Federer. Head over to GTT for some sense on this Wimbledon dead horse.
The notion that a jacket with a small 15 on the side, neither designed nor orchestrated by Federer, could equate to him being arrogant and dismissive of his opponent is just ludicrous and cruel.
Similarly ludicrous is the idea that Federer was somehow rubbing it in Roddick’s face when he said that he knew what Roddick was going through in his trophy acceptance speech.
Yeah, what an insensitive, heartless jerk. How could he possibly know what it feels like to lose an epic final to a long time nemesis?
The fact that Nadal gave Federer, almost word for word, the same consolation – “tough losing an epic match, I know how you feel yada yada” – just a year ago on the very same court was irrelevant and couldn’t possibly be regarded as condescending. It’s only condescending coming out of the Mighty Fed’s mouth. A guy who said this about his opponent is obviously deserving of some serious bashing:
Federer acknowledged his celebrations were somewhat reserved after a marathon 30-game final set but this was partly out of respect for an opponent he has now beaten three times in Wimbledon finals.
“It was a combination of being maybe a little bit sad for Andy after seeing Rafa was sad for me at Wimbledon last year,” he explained.
“I felt like it was such a gruelling match, everybody was tired and felt for Andy so I didn’t want to make a drama about it but I knew the importance and that it was one of the greatest moments in my tennis career.”
Yup, the guy’s an arrogant, insensitive ass. Was I the only person who thought Roddick’s quip was just part of his dead pan humor rather than any offense taken on his part? How about a truer representation of what happened during the post-match speech instead?
Condescension! Via Julian Finney/Getty Images
But there’s something even more insidious on than these allegations of unsportsmanship. Let me see if I can put a finger it – some writers have gone as far as saying that Federer misrepresents the sport of tennis by portraying the image of “a lucky, privileged Porsche-driving, mummsy-loving, polo-watching, country club dandy”.
Ummm … Do I really have to point out the irony that Federer’s being accused of portraying an elitist image at a tournament where the umpires and linesmen wear Ralph Lauren blazers?
And of all the things you can accuse Federer of, misrepresenting the sport of tennis ain’t one of them. Let’s see: did the guy take drugs? Snort cocaine? Did he pick out his wife from an SI swimsuit issue? Has he married and/or divorced a Hollywood actress? Does he ball-bounce excessively, grunt or cheat on court? Has he ever gone off at the umpire or the linesmen?
Instead, he marries the girl-next-door that he’s dated for almost 10 years. He carries himself so calmly on court that when he smashed a racket in Miami, it made headline news on CNN and became instant youtube sensation. He sells his RF merchandise and uses the funds to affect change in South Africa. He gives up more time for the press than any other player in order to promote tennis. This is a guy voted by his peers for the Stefan Edberg Sportmanship Award year after year. And somehow, because of a tracksuit jacket, we’re far too willing to toss his long standing credentials out the window, and cry “where is the old Roger?”
I’ll tell you how Federer has ‘misrepresented’ tennis: the day after the final, the two main newspapers in Melbourne – the Age and the Herald Sun – were inundated with letters to the editor congratulating Federer for his win. Not in the sports section, but in the general opinion section, next to discussions of government policy and international politics.
The Age dedicated its editorial of the day to Federer. Months earlier, when Federer lost to Djokovic in Miami, the Herald Sun ran a chatroom to discuss the crisis. I have never seen a foreign player spark so much interest for a sport that essentially expires mid-February in this country. Did anyone give a hoot that Federer wore a jacket with gold piping to celebrate his victory?
I just don’t get this bullshit. Among other things, I am truly shocked at how quickly haters, wait – ‘proper’ journalists, will jump on Fed’s perceived actions/inactions with a mob-like mentality.
Rub it in why dontcha: GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
What disheartens me more is the stuff that’s been left out of the discussion:
Lost amongst all this brouhaha over Jacketgate and sympathy for Roddick is the very human story of Roger Federer.
A few months ago, he was written off, thought to be done and dusted. Incapable of winning another slam.
A few months ago, he was serving poorly, and losing clutch sets with epic meltdowns, and crying about it too.
He rebounded from that. He coped with the immense pressure and “the Monster” he’s created for himself. He achieved slam No 15, and got back to World No 1. And did I mention he worked his ass off in Dubai and in Italy to get his serve back?
Did I mention he didn’t choke in the clutch set, and came through the fifth set in this Wimbledon final with some serious wilanders of steel?
But all this seems so insignificant compared to a jacket.
If a celebratory jacket is capable of amounting to a scandal in Roger Federer’s career, then I’d say that’s a pretty good reflection on his character. If I were him, I’d take all this as a compliment and a sign that he’s playing well again. After all, no one kicks a dead dog.
More Kool-Aid, anyone?
Drunk and still ranting,