Abu Dhabi : No one doubts Roger Federer's claim to being one of the all-time greats of tennis, but it is also his image as a role model that is unblemished and the Swiss ace vows to keep it that way.
Federer was part of a Gillette advertisement along with golfing great Tiger Woods and football maestro Thierry Henry. Subsequently both Woods and Henry have seen their reputation crumble — the former thanks to sex scandals and the latter for his handball that cost Ireland a place in the World Cup finals.
Federer, in reply to a question from Gulf News yesterday on the pressures of being a top sportsman and a role model, said: "I think it is important for athletes and for me, anyway, to be as good a role models as you can be."
"It is never guaranteed that you will be liked by the public and the fans. You try to achieve something and when that happens, it is also hard to maintain it," he said at a press conference yesterday ahead of the Capitala World Tennis Championship.
"Obviously I am very happy that my image is on the good side," said the 28 year old who won a record-breaking 15th Grand Slam to end 2009 as World No 1.
Another highlight, on a more personal note, for Federer in 2009 was his marriage to his long-time partner Mirka Vavrinec and the birth of their twin daughters, Myla Rose and Charlene Riva. With wife and kids also travelling with him most of the time, Federer said he was fully enjoying the family experience.
"The girls are five months old and it is challenging that way, but it has been fun. I have a great wife who helps in an incredible way. I try to help as best as I can but she is doing the main work," he said.
"My mindset has not changed. I am as eager as ever, as motivated. I am excited about this whole new chapter in our life. To manage it all and eager to experience it.
"I am also happy that there is a change in my routine as well. I've been doing many things for many years the same way. This [family] has made a big impact on my life and my organisation."
Federer said he was planning to mark New Year's Eve by having dinner with family and friends and then maybe attend the Rihanna concert provided "my girls allow it".
Who is your biggest role model? Do you think sportspersons make good role models?