Sue was up. Gone from bed. She was downstairs, in front of the TV.

I understood. Understood, even though it was 5 a.m. This was the French Open and she had a date with Roger Federer.

A date, but she knew it would have to be a double or triple date. Federer has 12.5 million followers on Twitter. I’ll bet most of them were up and out of bed, too.

Who can blame them? It’s more than charm, seven languages and the way he looks in a tux. Federer is a joy to watch and we keep thinking this much fun cannot last that much longer, so we get up early to drink in a few more Federer moments.

Last week, Sarah L. Kaufman, the dance critic for the Washington Post, wrote an article called “Why Roger Federer is the Most Graceful Athlete of Our Time.”

The article was full of language like “enraptures,” “religious expression,” “classical ideals,” “paragons of beauty,” “staccato steps," “lingering leaps," ''electrifying spontaneity,” ''bursts of light," ''perfected and free,” and that was only the first six paragraphs. The piece was a blend of appreciation and soft artistic porn. I was flushed after reading it and I didn’t know whether I should take a walk or pour myself a glass of cool water.

During his match with the 20-year-old Norwegian, Casper Rudd, a woman shouted out from the audience, “Roger, will you marry me?”

Federer will do that to you. No matter how old you are or he is. Federer turns 38 in August. If there were dog years for a professional tennis player, this would put him somewhere in his late 50s. An age where he would be a solid performer in a Monday night league. However, Federer, more than any other athlete I’ve ever seen, does not abide by the conventional rules of getting older.

There is the sense that as long as Federer does not get old, maybe we won’t either. When he does lose a step, 12 million baby boomers will suddenly find that their hair has thinned, their teeth have fallen out, and their backs ache. Yesterday, they were fine, but when Federer retired, they started hearing footsteps by the graveyard.

Until then, until we wake up from this pleasant reverie, we revel in his accomplishments which, like Federer, never seem to get old.

Federer has won 101 ATP singles titles, including 20 Grand Slams, 28 ATP Masters 1000 titles, and six ATP Finals. He was a gold medalist in men's doubles with Stan Wawrinka at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a silver medalist in men's singles at the 2012 London Olympics. Federer also won the 2001, 2018 and 2019 editions of the Hopman Cup, as well as the 2014 Davis Cup. He won the 2017 and 2018 editions of the Laver Cup with Team Europe.

Today, Federer plays his countryman Stan Wawrinka in the quarters of the French, after not playing the tournament for four years because he wanted to save himself for the grass court season, a surface on which he excels.

The match is scheduled for 5 a.m. Beds will empty. There will be plenty of time to sleep later, more than anybody needs. Right now, Roger is warming up. Roger is waiting.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or (661) 395-7279.

(1) comment


I might be with ya on Federer - for my wife, its Nadal. She calls him 'arms'. I cant figure that one out?? Will be a great match on Friday!

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