On the court, Roger Federer is famously precise, powerful, determined, tough and dominant. He’s also quite stylish. Even his very occasional bursts of hot-shot flair—look up “Federer between-the-legs winner” on YouTube—seem to be a result of practice and ruthless efficiency.
Off the court, Federer’s not much different.
At 31, he remains the number two–ranked player in the world (and could easily find himself back atop the ATP rankings sometime this year). He is almost certainly the best tennis player of all time (it’s hard to imagine his record of 17 Grand Slam titles will be broken any time soon) and—along with Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps and maybe LeBron James—one of the most successful athletes of the 21st century so far.
Suffice it to say, his achievements afford him a comfortable life off the court, one in which everything—including his preferred method of travel, flying private—allows Federer to concentrate on his game.
Living in the Middle East, it turns out, offers similar perks.
“In Dubai, I can really focus and put my head down and work extremely hard,” Federer says. “And then the next minute, I feel as though I’m on vacation. It’s very strange, actually. I don’t feel that way when I’m in Switzerland, because that’s home.”
In addition to its beaches and trendy restaurants—which he enjoys with his wife of four years, Mirka, a former tennis player, and twin daughters, Myla and Charlene—Dubai offers one other important advantage: relentless heat. Federer routinely flies in younger players whose playing styles match his rivals. They practice all over town, accompanied by his trainer, Pierre Paganini.
“The heat was a good thing for me, a Swiss guy, to get used to,” Federer says. “I struggled with the heat early on—the humidity. Then I bit the bullet and did three years in a row in the summertime, playing in 45 degrees [Celsius, about 113 degrees Fahrenheit] every day for two weeks, and I got strong.”
Of course, his strength extends beyond delivering killer 130 mph serves. His appealing image—in conversation, he’s very confident, gentle, well-spoken—combined with his controversy-free life and unprecedented success, has helped generate an estimated $45 million a year in endorsement deals with blue-chip brands. When he’s not competing, he’s going the extra mile with his charitable pursuits. His Roger Federer Foundation works with local NGOs in South Africa, Malawi and Botswana—as well as in Switzerland—to support children’s early-learning and education initiatives. “I truly believe philanthropy has to be from the heart,” he says.
Most recently, he has added Moët & Chandon to his endorsement portfolio. The French bubbly brand has been at the finish line of sailing and racing events for nearly a century, and as a global sponsor of the ATP World Tour, it’s a perfect fit for Federer. “I couldn’t have done this 10 years ago,” he says. “I would have felt too young, not authentic. But I went to Épernay, to see the Moët & Chandon wineries, and it was mind-blowing to see the winemakers and their effort. The passion for details that they have—
I feel very connected to that.”
Fashion is something else Federer has discovered an unexpected connection to. Indeed, his sartorial choices on court have become progressively edgier over the years. Early on, his natty tournament attire—the neatly pressed whites, the custom Nike cardigans, the interlocking RF logo—distinguished him from some of his less turned-out peers. But it was in September 2006 that he launched into an even more rarefied stratosphere when Vogue editor Anna Wintour brought him along to Marc Jacobs’ spring runway show. Since then, Wintour has remained a sort of style adviser to Federer.
“I’m happy to try out new things,” he says. “I started out with a lot of Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton. But as I go along, I try out different, less-known designers as well.”
The pair’s friendship extends beyond his wardrobe. Last summer, to celebrate his 31st birthday and his Wimbledon win, Wintour hosted a soiree for him at New York City’s Beatrice Inn. “She likes taking care of me. She told me to invite whoever I want, from fashion to art, athletes to actors. We had a small group. I couldn’t be more thankful for her love of my family.”
Another thing they have in common? Tennis. “[Anna] has played every morning for 30 years,” Federer says. “She loves tennis. We crossed paths early on, and I didn’t know who she was, to be honest, but we stayed in touch.”
As for what’s next for him off court, he’s building a ski chalet and expanding his art collection with his wife. “It’s a great balance for me to think outside the box to do something else [along with] tennis,” he says of the latter. “Where I live right now, we don’t have much space for art anyway, so I’m in the learning process. Ask me again in five years.” Roger that.
Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut 2004 champagne, $72.95, sherry-lehmann.com
Prada, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Milgauss, $8,200, rolex.com
Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour tennis shoes, $130, nike.com