Roger Federer’s Life After Tennis: Less Cardio, More Carpool

Roger Federer’s Life After Tennis: Less Cardio, More Carpool
Roger Federer’s Life After Tennis: Less Cardio, More Carpool

Summary

The tennis champion talks about parenting, his retirement routines and watching Wimbledon from the stands.

In the year since Roger Federer announced his retirement from professional tennis, the 42-year-old Swiss athlete has been busy—co-chairing the annual Met Gala fundraiser, sitting front row at Dior’s couture show in Paris and, recently, debuting a tennis collaboration between Uniqlo and the fashion label JW Anderson.

None of it has been as time-consuming as Federer’s new role as a carpool dad.

“I’m basically a professional driver now," he said in a recent interview. “I take the kids to tennis, back and forth, drop off at school, pick up. Yesterday morning we even picked up a friend on the way to school. The logistics with the four is nuts."

Federer chauffeurs his 9-year-old twin boys and 14-year-old twin girls to school three to four times a week, playing Queen, Jon Bon Jovi and the Backstreet Boys on the stereo.

He also regularly badges in at the headquarters of On, the Swiss sportswear giant where he owns a minority stake and serves as a creative partner. Below, Federer discusses the pickleball craze, a new sneaker he helped design and his ultimate cheat food.

What time do you wake up on Monday morning and what’s the first thing you do?

Seven is when the alarm goes. I open the blinds, grab espresso and then it’s all about getting the kids ready for school. We have breakfast together. They have a little cereal, eggs, porridge and fruit salads, but I don’t have much. I’m happy with a coffee.

What do you do after drop-off?

I go straight to the gym. I’ve had quite a bit of knee issues, so I’m constantly rehabbing. I haven’t been able to do much cardio—mostly weights, core exercises, exercises for my quad-strengthening. I have a physio I’ve been with for seven years, and we see each other four times a week. He does treatments, massages, stretching, and he also runs me through exercises.

Is there a new exercise you want to try now?

I’ve wanted to try certain challenges, like 300 push-ups every day for a month. I also just tried SoulCycle for the first time in East Hampton because my wife and her friends went every morning and said I have to come. My girls came too. It was great music, and I really enjoyed it.

Has your diet changed since you retired?

Not a whole lot. I’ve always been eating very healthy. But when you don’t move as much anymore, you have to be careful not to eat as much, which is why I skip breakfast.

Do you have a cheat food?

Hello, I’m from Switzerland. We love our chocolate. I also like candy. When I think back to my childhood, when I used to go back from tennis with my friend who also made it on tour, we used to go to the kiosk and for $2, we’d get a bunch of candy and just sit on the bench and eat it and talk about life, like a bunch of old guys.

What do you wear to work at the On offices?

I am usually very casual and sporty. I’m very much into T-shirts at the moment—T-shirts, jeans and sneakers.

Are you working on anything new for On?

Yes, the Roger Clubhouse Pro, a tennis-inspired shoe. I felt like we needed a sneaker for in-between, for when the kids go to school, but then you want to go play football, and then back to school and then go play ping pong and tennis. You can do it all with this one shoe.

Are you still playing tennis?

I don’t play much tennis anymore, other than with the kids. As a former player, to book a court and get someone to hit with you is a process, so you end up not doing it. On vacation, I just played with our friends in the Hamptons. I’m not super competitive. It’s just nice to be out there and then sit on the terrace and let the sweat go a bit.

How do the kids feel about tennis?

All four kids love it. The girls didn’t love it in the beginning but as they get better, they’re enjoying it and playing points now. They were up at [John] McEnroe Academy in East Hampton, and the boys were in Mallorca at the [Rafael Nadal] camp for a couple of days.

Do you ever coach them?

When I have time—and I try to make the time—I go on the court with them and try to teach them a little bit. It’s obviously an interesting dynamic, because I’m the dad, and not a former player. It is what it is [laughing].

What’s it like having teenagers?

It’s interesting. Sometimes, it’s like, ‘Is it ok if I also live here?’ I’m joking, but it’s true that it’s intense.

How do you feel about America’s craze for pickleball?

As a tennis player, I’m very happy these racket sports are growing. Pickle is easier than tennis, and I think that’s great. I’ve watched some highlights of Jack Sock playing doubles, and I enjoyed it. I just hope that not too many tennis courts will be lost because all these pickleball courts were built.

Have you played it yet?

I haven’t tried it because of the knees, and also because I haven’t come across many courts. But I’ve played paddle twice, and I played squash with my dad growing up, so I have played easier tennis games.

What was it like to watch Wimbledon from the stands?

My dad leaned over and asked me, “Wouldn’t you want to be on the court right now instead of just sitting here?" And I was, “Oh, my God, no. I’m so happy sitting here." I felt very content and at peace, sitting and not playing. Because a year before, when there was the 100th-year celebration of Centre Court, I felt that I maybe didn’t want to be there. It was important for me to be there, but it was a crushing feeling I had, a twisted feeling I had. This year, I was very happy to be back there. And the people were happy to see me happy.

Is there anyone you are rooting for?

No, but I’m surprised how much I follow scores. I check several times a day to see the scores and what’s going on.

What’s something you spend money on to improve your life?

I love to plan vacations. Having something to look forward to is important. We’re going to Japan for two weeks this year, we’re going to the Maldives, and I am so excited for that. I know some people don’t take vacation, or even if they’re on vacation they are super wired. But I am able to switch off, and then I come back feeling really energized. Quality time with friends and family is a privilege.

Do you ever give your kids professional advice?

My motto is it’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice. It’s about manners, being polite and speaking to people in a way where you are grateful and thankful.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Write to Chavie Lieber at Chavie.Lieber@WSJ.com

Roger Federer’s Life After Tennis: Less Cardio, More Carpool
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Roger Federer’s Life After Tennis: Less Cardio, More Carpool
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