Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer is sure to hold a special place in his heart for SW19.
But it turns out not even the tournament’s record holder can easily gain access to the tournament’s grounds, as the Swiss icon discovered when he went recently went there for a spot of tea.
Across his illustrious career, the 41-year-old – who recently retired from tennis – lifted the pineapple-topped All England Club’s winners trophy more times than anyone else in the Open Era.
However he has now revealed that he was recently denied entry by a security guard when he returned there for a flying visit.
“I didn’t want to tell Wimbledon that I was going to maybe be there,” the 20-times Grand Slam champion told The Daily Show on US television.
“I didn’t know if I was going to have time to go by the club, because I was going to fly home to the family.
“So the doctor appointment was done, OK, we got two hours to kill, so what are we going to do? Do we head to the airport? Or let’s quickly go have tea at Wimbledon?”
But the former tennis star soon came a cropper when he tried to get in to the grounds – all because he didn’t have a membership card.
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He continued: “I have not really been at Wimbledon when the tournament is not on. I drive up to the gate, where usually guests come in.
“I quickly go out and speak to the security lady. ‘Yes, hello, just was wondering how I can get into Wimbledon? Where is the door? Where is the gate?’
“And she [says], ‘Do you have a membership card?’ I’m like, ‘Uh, we have one?’ Because when you win Wimbledon, you become a member automatically.
“Honestly, I don’t know about membership cards. They’re probably at home somewhere. And I’ve just been travelling so I had no idea.
“I’m like, ‘No, I don’t have my membership card but I am a member. I’m just wondering where I can get in.’ And she [says], ‘Yeah, but you have to be a member.’
“I look at her one last time and I’m in a panic now. And I’m so sorry and I couldn’t believe — I still can’t believe I say that because I still feel bad about it.
“And I’d look at her and say, ‘I have won this tournament eight times, please believe me, I am a member and where do I get in?’”
But the security guard didn’t budge, and Federer had to be saved by a bystander who walked past and asked for a selfie, alerting security guards to his presence and granting him entry.
“I thought of going over to the other side and giving a wave that I was in,” Federer said. “But I didn’t do it.”
The tennis legend made the final at Wimbledon 12 times, being crowned champion first in 2003 and winning his final title in the competition in 2017.
Federer was also a junior Wimbledon champion, before turning professional in 1998.
Before his retirement, had not played a professional match since limping through a quarter-final defeat at SW19 in 2021, and announced earlier this year he was hanging his racket up.
But, yeah, maybe bring your membership card next time, Roger.
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