Melbourne: Roger Federer says he’s a big believer in kids playing sport, but he’s not keen on his own children following in his footsteps.
The Swiss great and wife Mirka had identical twins Myla Rose and Charlene Riva in 2009 and another set came along five years later, Leo and Lenny.
They are occasionally seen watching their dad ply his trade, but after years travelling the world on the tennis Tour, the 36-year-old would prefer not to have to do it all over again.
“I mean, I hope they don’t just because we don’t need another 25 years on Tour,” he said at the Australian Open when asked if he would encourage them to be professional players.
But he added: “No, I’m just a supportive parent. I can’t tell which direction they’re going to go.
“If there’s going to be anything in sports or somewhere in finance or business, I have no idea where they’re going to go. All I know is I’ll be incredibly supportive of them.”
He did reveal they already play tennis, not because he has been encouraging them, but because their friends all do and he doesn’t want them to feel left out.
“I’m happy they all do play tennis a little bit because basically literally all our friends who have kids as well, they all play tennis,” he said.
“I wouldn’t want my kids to be the only ones who don’t play tennis, so with my wife we have sort of a little requirement on things they have to do in their life, and tennis is unfortunately one of them.
“It’s not because we want them to. It’s because I think it would be a pity if they played no tennis at all.”
Despite the reluctance for his children to follow in his footsteps, Federer, who is chasing a 20th Grand Slam in Melbourne, is a great believer in kids playing sport more generally, believing it can teach them a lot.
“I think it’s great for them to do sports early on in their life. I think it’s good for them,” he said.
“Winning, losing, that comes a little bit later, but you learn a lot from that. I did anyway. I think also you make a lot of friends through sports.
“You get to know yourself a bit better. It’s healthy. You move around. You go outside. I’m a big believer in these things.”
The Swiss maestro moved into the last 16 with a commanding straight sets win over Frenchman Richard Gasquet with his serving game a feature.
Federer was struck down with back trouble last year when he lost to Alexander Zverev in the final of the Montreal Masters and subsequently withdrew from the Cincinnati Masters. But on the evidence of his form in the year’s opening Grand Slam in Melbourne, he looks back to his serving best.
The 36-year-old said the renewed freedom in his back was contributing to the improvement in his serving. “Just the back being fine again,” Federer said after beating Gasquet.
“The problem is, when you have back issues, when you’re scared or you don’t have the confidence in your body.
“It robs you by of say 20 or 30 per cent of your capabilities maybe on that particular shot only, but it’s enough to make you almost half the player that you normally are.
“Sometimes it takes time. When it hurts, it hurts. It’s just not point-for-point mentality because it’s difficult. Finally when you’re free again, you find better zones, more consistency.”
Federer said serving consistency was a big thing in top-level tennis of fine margins between players.
“Can you serve like this for five hours? That’s the goal. When you’re carrying an injury, clearly it’s tougher,” he said.
“I think right now I’m fine again. Look, bad backs always come and go I think for all of us players.
Federer enters the second week of the Australian Open with a round of 16 encounter against erstwhile training partner, Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.