Dubai: Two young Italian tennis players got a ‘gift’ of a lifetime when tennis legend Roger Federer paid them a surprise visit.
The two Italians — 13-year-old Vittoria and 11-year-old Carola — had turned into overnight internet sensations after playing rooftop tennis in the Italian commune of Finale Ligure in the Province of Savona, during lockdown, in April this year.
However, courtesy of Italian pasta giants Barilla, Federer paid the two young Italian girls a surprise visit. Touched by the perseverance of the two girls continuing with their tennis during lockdown, the 38-year-old Federer felt that the visit is one way of giving back to the sport he has adorned more than two decades now.
In February, Federer underwent arthroscopic surgery for a right knee injury and subsequently announced his withdrawal from tournaments in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami and the French Open while announcing he would return for the grass season later in the summer.
But, recently Federer announced that he won’t be playing tennis on the professional stage again this season after taking some more time off to recover from a second arthroscopic procedure on his troublesome right knee.
However, the star was more than thrilled to be meeting up with the two young girls. “Personally for me, that was a very special moment in my career as a tennis player, to surprise a fan, or children, like I was able to with Carola and Vittoria today,” Federer said.
The original video about the girls playing tennis on their rooftop was an instant hit on social media while earning nearly seven million views on Twitter, another 1.3 million views on Facebook and almost nearly half a million views on Instagram within a day of publishing.
Not one to be left out in motivating youngsters, Federer, a father of four, got in on the action and surprised the girls on the same rooftop to rally with them. As the girls are being interviewed for the video, Federer is listening to their answers in the background with an amused smirk on his face.
After around a minute, he steps out and the two girls are stunned to actually see their hero on their rooftop as he asks them if he can hit around with them. Watched by one of their grandmothers, the two girls pair up on one side of the roof as Federer goes on the other side. After a brief hitting session, the three players tuck into a pasta lunch on a terrace.
“It was great. I have played in many cool places around the world. But this is definitely up there for me as a special experience,” Federer said in the video.
“We showed that we can play anywhere and have fun with it. I had the best time, honestly.”
Towards the end of the video released by Barilla, Federer had another surprise for the two young tennis players. “I happen to know a really good summer camp for you two girls. I have spoken to the Rafa Nadal Academy and Barilla and I would like to send you there. So why don’t you start packing? Enjoy it. Ciao,” Federer said.