Melbourne, Australia, 15 December 2013 | AAP
Roger Federer is keeping mum about Rod Laver’s specific involvement in his big night out at Melbourne Park next month to mark the 10th anniversary of his charity foundation and first Australian Open triumph.
Dubbed “A night with Roger Federer and friends”, the 17-time Grand Slam champion will commandeer Rod Laver Arena on 8 January, taking on charismatic Frenchman and Australian Open 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in what promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime tennis and entertainment event.
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Federer has shared several emotional moments with Laver at the very same venue over the years and said it was only fitting to pay tribute to his idol on such a special evening.
“The stadium is named after him after all and he’s a legend of our game,” Federer said.
“I love the history of our game because they have paved the way for us in such a big way that tends to be forgotten.
“I always like to get former legends and greats and icons back involved in the game and particularly Rod because he has achieved things that will never be achieved again.
“It’s nice that he is respected and appreciated and that he is willing to participate in our event.
“How? You’ll find out because it’s built from a little secret and I just think it’s wonderful that I have this opportunity because he really is a person that I admire a lot.”
Federer launched his foundation on Christmas Day, 2003.
“When I won Wimbledon in 2003, 10 years ago now, I was able to make all this money, and have all this fame from one day to the next,” he said.
“For me, it was very logical that I make use of it in a good way.
“The question is what do you want to support personally?”
With the Swiss superstar’s mother from South Africa, he decided to assist impoverished children in southern Africa, chiefly providing education for youngsters between three and 12.
“Going a lot to South Africa when I was young, to go visit my family on vacation, for me that was always very much an eye opener,” he said.
“I loved going there but clearly I was also confronted with some of the poverty and my parents always told me what was going on and why this is the case.”
A decade on and Federer says his foundation now helps more than 80,000 children a year.
“And the goal is for 2018 to be supporting one million kids,” he said.
“Education is not something you can take away.”
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