Roger Federer returns to the court in Tokyo! The Swiss maestro, still nursing his “so-so” knee, advocates for mental health and longer careers for players

Roger Federer made his first on-court appearance at the Uniqlo Lifewear Day in Tokyo. The Swiss then updated the public on his retirement in a 30-minute Q&A session afterwards.

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Speaking in a press conference Q&A at Uniqlo’s LifeWear Day in Tokyo on Saturday, Roger Federer gave a status update on his health, family life and post-retirement plans. The Swiss also advocated for mental health, urging players to take time off during their careers so that they may prolong their careers.

“Players retire at a super young age,” Federer said. “I totally understand it and we see it happen from time to time. But I was feeling that it’s such a pity.”

Federer – “Nobody’s allowed to say ‘I’m tired’ today, because it looks like you’re weak”

The Swiss, who officially retired this year at the age of 41, and is the oldest player to ever hold the ATP’s top ranking, says that it’s difficult for players to draw the line when it comes to taking the time off they need to preserve mental and physical health. He hopes that changes in the years to come.

“I see now that players are trying to stay on the tour longer,” he said. “And maybe also what sometimes has happened in the past is that players do realize you can take three months off, or six months, or a year off for that matter, and still be able to come back again and give yourself a bit of a rest because the tour is tough. 

“It’s tough to stay on the tour, with travel, practice, jetlag. Nobody’s allowed to say ‘I’m tired’ today, because it looks like you’re weak. That’s why players end up having mental problems sometimes, because you’re always supposed to show strength but we are also not machines – we’re also just human beings.”

An update on the knee – it’s “so-so”

Federer says he plans to start playing more sports, like skiing and football, which he didn’t allow himself to do for the last ten years of his career, now that he’s retired. But he needs more time to get completely healthy first.

“The other sports I’m still a little bit scared [to play], right after retirement,” he said. “My knees are a little bit so-so. So that has to wait.” 

In the meantime, travel factors heavily on the 20-time Grand Slam champion’s to-do list. Federer says he wants to have adventurous vacations with his family. He also mentioning taking his four children to Africa, the homeland of his mother, Lynette.

“As time will go by we’ll be able to, again, do more trips,” he said. “We’re always planning our vacations and I want them to be really fun and they can actually become a little bit more creative as well. I would like to take my kids to Africa.

“Before, the vacations always had to be somewhat relaxing, because my life on the road was so busy. Now I think our vacations can become a bit more adventurous.”

Coaching? Not in the plans, but never say never

Federer was asked about coaching during his day in Tokyo, and he reiterated his sentiment that it isn’t something he is interested in. But that doesn’t mean he’ll shy away from helping young players build their tennis futures.

“With my four children going to school and everything going on, I don’t see myself coaching at the moment. But if a Swiss junior comes around and needs support or advice, I’m happy to do that,” he said.

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