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On the surface, there isn’t much in common between Roger Federer and Alicia Keys. One is an R&B singer who has hit the top of the music charts, while the other has hit the top of the ATP Rankings.
But, as it turns out, they're both entertainers.
Although Federer doesn’t sing or dance (unless you count his silky footwork on the court), he also fills stadiums and plays to adoring fans worldwide. The Swiss star explained in a recent interview that the similarities hit home when he watched Keys perform at the Dubai Jazz Festival.
“I saw how she was enjoying herself playing the piano for 12,000 people. People have bought an expensive ticket and she was trying to give them their money’s worth. I try to do the same to entertain people,” said Federer to the Gulf News.
Federer also enjoys a celebrity status similar to Keys in other ways. Fans often show up to his matches wearing his UNIQLO gear or holding signs professing their love for him. Tournament security guards shepherd him from one location to another as cameras click and whir, all while fans shout his name or hold items for him to sign. The carnival atmosphere that his mere presence creates makes it clear that this is a man with star power.
The 99-time ATP Tour singles champion is keenly aware his fans are what enable him to enjoy a lucrative career, and has always made it a point to show them his best. Just as Keys knows that a standing ovation concert and lengthy autograph session will encourage fans to see her the next time she’s in town, he knows a vintage performance on Centre Court will bring more people back to the Aviation Club Tennis Centre in 2020.
“You see the queues for tickets and all the love and affection of the fans. It makes you realise that maybe you’re more than a tennis player - an entertainer or ambassador of the game if you like,” he added to the Gulf News. “I do what I can to inspire people by shaking hands at a meet-and-greet or saying something in an interview. I want people to think [I] give the crowd 100 per cent and don't do anything half-hearted, so that they can come back to a tennis arena again.”
And just like Keys, the Swiss star is the antithesis of the A-list entertainer stereotype. There are no diva demands or temper tantrums. His "entourage" is his family and two coaches, Ivan Ljubicic and Severin Luthi. It’s often assumed that one makes it to the top of an industry by being cutthroat, but Federer has proven that isn’t necessary.
“I have been told in the past that [I’m] too nice to be successful, but I think I have been able to do both by being respectful to people,” said Federer. “You have to remember why you are in such a privileged position. I can’t thank my fans enough… so many of them have touched my life along the way.”