Worshipping at the Church of Roger Meet the Federer fanatics
They are, in the nicest possible sense, a cult. A group of 40-50 people from all over the globe, who spend thousands upon thousands to travel each year to London, Paris, Melbourne and New York just to glimpse Roger Federer.
Meet the devotees called United by Rog, formed on the forum of Federer’s website. Before each grand slam he is presented with a red envelope of good-luck messages. Being chosen as the courier to deliver it to the 18-time grand slam champion is the highest honour.
To them, watching Federer is a religious experience. Tani Christiaens, 42, from Belgium, was converted in 2001 when she saw him play Lleyton Hewitt in the Netherlands. “It was the onehanded backhand, I had never seen anything like that. It changed my world,” Christiaens said, as if recalling her first kiss.
She saves to watch him in as many grand slams as she can, using up all her holiday time. Christiaens says she could have bought a house with the money, but believes it is well spent. “It is the way he moves on court. Everything is beautiful. The backhand, the footwork. It is like he is dancing. He is an inspiration. It is pure happiness.”
Sunita Sigtia travels from Calcutta to watch Federer every year at Wimbledon. She has two tattoos, his RF logo on her neck and his signature on her forearm.
Even the disciples know the Almighty – at almost 36 – is approaching the end of his career, merely intensifying their worship. “If he wins this one it will beat everything,” Christiaens said. “It is at the stage where you have to appreciate every time he walks on court. We are blessed every time we witness him.”
Praising the almighty: These United by Rog devotees follow their idol Federer (right)