Roger Federer: Leave While He's Good Or Play Because He Can? | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Roger Federer: Leave While He's Good Or Play Because He Can?

Play associated audio

It's been a week but tennis fans are still talking about the big loss of a big favorite at Wimbledon. This is sports drama, a heartbreaking soap opera as only Frank Deford can tell it:

She brushed her fallen golden locks from off her forehead and turned away, not letting him see that she was fighting off tears.

But he knew her too well, and nervously, he sipped at his martini. How long had she held him so full in her heart? Eight years? 10? To be sure, yes, there'd been times when he'd thought that maybe she'd given up on him, found a younger man, but each time, she'd come back to him, her love stronger than ever. She'd never seen such beauty in a man, such grace, such style. But now? Now it was different. She simply whispered, "I'm sorry. It had to end sometime."

His hand reached for her , pleading, "Just another chance, sweetheart? At least till the autumn?"

"No," she said. "Can't you see, you fool: It's over."

"You've no doubt?"

"None. Darling, it's time for Roger Federer to hang it up before he tarnishes all that we had."

Ah, once again: the perennial question about the great champion as he grows into athletic dotage: Should he quit when he is still near the top of his game? Or should he keep playing the sport he loves, unashamed at more everyday defeats to everyday players?

Federer suffered at Wimbledon last week. Does it dim a champion's legacy that we saw him diminished at the end, even if he was extraordinary at his zenith? Or, do we eventually forget his defeats to the acolytes of Father Time and only remember the glory days?

The decline of the stars in individual sports is more obvious, of course. Was anything sadder than Muhammed Ali looking like another old tomato can? When there are teammates around, the star is not quite so scrutinized. It's interesting that the magnificent baseball player, Albert Pujols, has declined precipitously –– and at pretty much the age Federer is –– but more attention is paid to how the Angels overpaid Pujols than how he's performing –– let alone should he hang up his spikes.

Still, old heroes on teams are allowed more to troop the colors their last, lingering seasons.

But watching athletes who were out there alone and who were so special –– like Federer, like the boxer Manny Pacquiao –– watching them decline. Nevermind what they want –– why, it almost feels as if they have no right to let us see them being mere mortals.

On the other hand, wouldn't it be nice if never again did we ever see, or even hear from, Alex Rodriquez?

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Welcome To Braggsville' Isn't Quite 'Invisible Man,' But It's Close

T. Geronimo Johnson's latest follows four Berkeley students who take an American history class that leads to disaster. It's an ambitious book about race that wants to say something big about America.
NPR

Why Shark Finning Bans Aren't Keeping Sharks Off The Plate (Yet)

Fewer shark fins are being imported into Hong Kong, the epicenter of shark-fin soup, a culinary delicacy. But while the trade in shark fins may be down, the trade in shark meat is still going strong.
NPR

Peace Corps Teams Up With First Lady To 'Let Girls Learn'

The Peace Corp will recruit and train about 650 additional volunteers to focus on girls' education around the world. The expansion is part of a larger program launched by Michelle Obama Tuesday.
NPR

Internet Memes And 'The Right To Be Forgotten'

Becoming Internet-famous is a gold mine for some, a nightmare for others. The world of memes can pit free speech against the desire for privacy. And laws generally aren't keeping up, an expert says.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.