After winning the 2017 Australian Open to take his Grand Slam singles title tally to 18, the most in history for a male tennis player, Roger Federer confirmed his status as the greatest tennis player of all time.
His sensational professional record aside, Federer has made a name for himself as being one of the ‘good guys’ of the sport. In his illustrious career, Federer has played the game and treated his opponents with nothing but graciousness and respect.
That’s why this heartwarming tale about the king should come as no surprise. An elderly couple has accompanied Team Federer at every Australian Open since 2002, and the reason will make you respect him even more than you already do.
Sachin Kalbag, the editor of The Hindu, tells the story:
"Every year, at the Australian Open, behind Rodger Federer's coach (earlier Edberg and now Ljubicic), sits an elderly couple.
There is a story to this couple, and it shows what a good human being Federer is. The couple, as Federer’s die-hard fans would know, are Bob and Diana Carter, the parents of his first international coach, the Australian Peter Carter.
Federer was just nine when Carter took him under his wing. In 2002, in a terrible tragedy, Carter died in a car accident while on a vacation with his wife. He was only 37 years of age.
The story goes that Federer (then 21) was so affected by his coach's death, he ran through the streets of Toronto (where he was playing that day), bawling his heart out. Carter had recognised Federer's genius at a young age, and was determined to make him an all-time great. He was not Federer's first coach, but the one who took him from relative obscurity in Basel in Switzerland to the threshold of international greatness.
Every year since 2005, Federer's team sends an all-expenses paid itinerary to the Adelaide-based couple - first-class air tickets, bookings in the same hotel as Federer, food, winner's parties and even commiseration parties in Melbourne. And they sit in Federer's box at the Rod Laver Arena, supporting him as if he were their son. They see their son Peter in him. And Federer never forgets the Carter family's role in his life and career.
He is one of the greatest humans to have set foot on a tennis court. Remember the people and the things that have made an impact in your life."
What a player, what a man, and most importantly, what a human being.