Roger Federer was moved to tears as he began talking about his inspirational former coach Peter Carter, whom he credits for having a huge influence on his playing technique that won him 20 grand slam titles.
Carter coached Federer from age 9 in the 1990s until he was 18.
“It’s a really nice story. He came to play club tennis for my club in Basel, Old Boys Tennis Club,” Federer told CNN sports in an exclusive interview. “When I was little he was one of the star players on the team. I was able to have coaching lessons with him, and he was from Adelaide in Australia.”
“Peter was really, a really important person in my life. If I can say thank you for my technique today it’s to Peter,” he said.
Carter died at 37 in 2002 in a car accident while honeymooning in South Africa—just a week before Federer’s 21st birthday, and a year before Federer won his first grand slam.
The CNN interviewer asked Federer: “He passed away the year before you won your first slam at Wimbledon, obviously. What do you think he would have thought to see you here now with twenty grand slams?”
Federer paused briefly, then quickly broke down in tears.
“Sorry. Oh, man, I still miss him so much. I hope he would be proud,” Federer said.
“I guess he didn’t want me to be a wasted talent. So, I guess it was somewhat of a wake-up call from me when he passed away and I really started to train hard,” he said.
“I’ve been incredibly fortunate and we had the right people at the right time, the right coaches at the right time. I mean, sure you could argue I made those decisions, but I was also lucky along the way,” he said.
“Geez, never broke down like this,” he said later.
‘He Taught Me Respect’
When Federer learned of Carter’s death, he was in a tournament in Toronto. According to The Australian, Federer “left his hotel and ran through the streets, bawling and hysterical” upon hearing the tragic news.
According to reports, every year since 2005, Federer has been sending Peter Carter’s parents, Adelaide-based Bob and Diana Carter, an all-expenses-paid itinerary with first-class tickets to fly them to Melbourne to the Australian Open to see him play.
Federer has previously paid tribute to Carter in 2017 when he had won the Australian Open title after defeating Rafael Nadal.
“Peter Carter had the biggest impact on me in terms of my technique. That’s what so many people talk about,” Federer said in 2017.
In 2013, Federer spoke of Carter: “Work ethic was very important for Australians, so I think I profited a lot from that and early on for me, Peter Carter was a very important man just overall for my character.
“He taught me respect for each person. It doesn’t matter if that person is famous or not famous.
“He just taught me the right values, so did my parents. They got on very well. We were very close to Peter, all of us,” he said.
Federer told The Australian in 2012: “He wasn’t my first coach, but he was my real coach. He knew me and my game and he always knew what was good for me.”
Federer said he is confident to defend his title for the upcoming 2019 Australian Open, which begins Jan. 14.
“Am I confident? I don’t know. I feel good. I’ve been training really well. I’ve had another great year. Still happy playing and I’ve won the last two Australian Open editions so I should be going in there with confidence,” he told CNN.
“I love playing Australia, love playing in Melbourne.”
“There’s so much that connects me to that country. The legends that I admire, the coaches that I’ve had in Tony Roche and Peter Carter—they’ve been incredibly inspirational and important to me in my life.”
Roger Federer's inspirational former coach died in a car crash on his honeymoon in 2002.
Nearly two decades on, Federer still gets emotional when he talks about Peter Carter.
— CNN Sport (@cnnsport) January 7, 2019