Tennis star Roger Federer is known for his collected, even-keeled demeanor on the court. But it wasn’t always this way for the 17-time Grand Slam champion. In his youth, he says he would often get frustrated and throw his racket, sometimes even crying during practices.
One of these frustrating moments is part of the inspiration for his latest NikeLab x RF collection. During an event celebrating the off-court collection on Tuesday at the NikeLab 21M store in New York’s Soho neighborhood, Federer recounted a time when his father left him at the tennis court when the young Federer had a poor attitude. His father was fed up and left him with five francs for the bus to find his way home by himself.
He laughs about it now, and he also reflects on the moment as an important lesson that he wanted to include as part of the collection. Nike placed groups of five dots throughout the shoes and apparel in the collection to represent those five francs.
Federer says that he was much more involved in choosing the fabrics and details in the collection.
“Tennis has such a strong history and heritage of good looks. It felt like we kind of lost track in a way, and I just wanted to bring style back,” Federer said. “The idea was to get the quality right and have a really special feel to the collection and make it all about the details. It’s what I stand for — being a quality player on the court and also how I look on the court and off the court.”
In his downtime, Federer said he enjoys wearing tracksuits while spending time with his four children at home in Switzerland.
“I like to wear Jordans, comfy shoes or any shoes from Nike,” he said. “I like colorful shoes, but I don’t show them off on tour.”
While in major metropolitan cities such as London, Shanghai, Paris and New York, Federer said he likes to dress up more.
“I don’t mind wearing ties. I like dressing up especially when I’m going for nice dinners because for me that’s the escape from my everyday life and from the tennis court,” he said.
The NikeLab x RF collection, which includes the NikeCourt Tennis Classic Ultra Flyknit sneaker, is available now on Nike.com. Federer, currently ranked No. 4 in the world, is sitting out the upcoming U.S. Open as he recovers from a knee injury.