Tennis legend Roger Federer loves India and feels its audience are passionate and full of life.
In an interaction with his apparel sponsor Uniqlolast year, Federer said he loves coming to India not only to visit, but also to play. “I love India. I enjoy going there to visit and also to play. It’s a vibrant country. So many people getting together,” 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer was quoted as saying on Uniqlo India’s Instagram page.
Federer has been to India three times before in 2006, 2014 and 2015. He visited India for the first time in 2006 to the tsunami-struck Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu.
On his two-day trip, Federer visited Unicef’s tsunami recovery programmes in Cuddalore, in the country’s hardest-hit state, including a protection centre for children and orphans. More than 18,000 people in India, a third of them children, were killed or reported missing by the tsunami on December 26, 2004. In Tamil Nadu alone, 8,000 people were killed and 186 schools destroyed.
“I have spent a lot of time with the children and I think I now know each of them by their first name,” Federer said. “Children are our future, and for that reason I have tried to inspire them. “I told the children that I would always be there for them. This first visit in India has been fantastic.”
More than 200,000 people around the world lost their lives in the 2004 tsunami. Federer was appointed Unicef Goodwill Ambassador in April 2006. The 20-time Grand Slam champion first teamed up with Unicef in 2004 when the Indian Ocean tsunami struck.
After the disaster Federer led several fundraising initiatives including the ATP All-Star Rally for Relief, a unique exhibition tournament with proceeds benefiting Unicef’s tsunami-relief programmes.
“It is remarkable how these young people have seized this reconstruction as a opportunity to improve their lives and to strengthen their communities,” he said.
Roger Federer is the first Swiss-born Goodwill Ambassador. English-born Sir Peter Ustinov, who later took Swiss nationality, had been Goodwill Ambassador for more than 35 years when he died in 2004.