Rotterdam: Roger Federer will support the campaign to have squash included in the 2020 Olympics, after meeting the sport’s long-time No. 1 Nicol David at the Rotterdam World Tennis tournament.
Federer, winner of 17 Grand Slam tennis titles, made his endorsement only a few days after the International Olympic Committee said it would remove wrestling from the Games, a decision which has met with a storm of controversy.
“I started with a wooden racquet in squash,” said Federer, after losing to France’s Julien Benneteau in the Rotterdam quarter-finals.
“It’s a wonderful sport. I think squash deserves to be in the Olympics, they run a great tour with great personalities. I’d be very happy for them personally. I used to play every Sunday with my dad.”
Six-time world champion David, a Malaysian based in Amsterdam for part of the season, is an enthusiastic supporter of her sport making the Games shortlist.
“Why do I think squash deserves its chance? It’s played in every corner of the globe,” she said.
“It’s tremendous to have Roger Federer supporting our campaign. It’s a dream come true for squash. He loves the game and was brought up playing squash. He wants to see another racquet sport be part of the Olympics.
“He’s giving his own time to support the bid. Him making this effort is such a bonus for the squash big picture. This could have a real impact.”
David said the campaign will make a presentation to the IOC.
“We still have a lot of work to keep momentum going. Having Roger Federer supporting it is a huge plus for us. Squash deserves a chance to be part of the Games.”
Federer also announced that he will fly to South Africa on Sunday on a brief mission for his charity foundation, which works with under-privileged children in the Johannesburg area.
He said that he also hopes to be able to meet the country’s venerated political icon Nelson Mandela.
“It will only be for a few days but I want to visit one of the projects of the foundation,” said Federer, whose mother is South African.
“I’m looking forward to it since I haven’t been to South Africa in some time. I’m really hoping to be able to meet Nelson Mandela, we have been reaching out to him. It would be amazing and a dream come true.”
The trip slots in nicely with Federer’s next tournament entry at his training base of Dubai starting a week from Monday, where — like in Rotterdam — he will be defending champion.