The Wimbledon 2019 final had a lot of memorable moments, which is bound to be the case with any match that lasts four hours and 57 minutes. But the most enduring — and most meme-worthy — moment from the epic contest was not Novak Djokovic’s searing backhand winner in the final set tiebreaker, or even his forehand pass to save championship point at 8-7, 40-30. It was, instead, what happened a minute earlier: a female Federer fan in the stands raising her index finger in the air with glee, announcing to the world that one point was all Roger Federer needed to create history.
As it turned out, Federer failed to get the point that everyone thought was a formality, and the unfortunate finger-raising fan became the butt of a million memes. The lady’s cocky expression single-handedly became a weapon of mass humiliation in the hands of Djokovic fans, and the symbol of everything that Federer fans hate about the nightmare match.
But what if there was no one in the stands to commemorate the historic occasion in the historic match? That’s precisely the prospect that tennis players and fans are facing in a post-coronavirus world. And as you’d expect, not everyone is chuffed about it.
Roger Federer has become the first big name to voice his disapproval of playing tennis behind closed doors. “In my view, I can’t see an empty stadium,” Federer said in a video chat earlier this week. “I hope that doesn’t happen…Maybe we wait for the appropriate time to return to normal mode again. (Or) at least a third of the stadium or half full. But for me, completely empty when playing in big tournaments is very difficult.”
Of course, anyone who saw what happened before and after that infamous championship point would know the reasoning behind Federer’s comment. The Swiss is always the crowd favorite, and he has made a habit out of channeling the positives vibes he receives from spectators into his own positive shot-making.
Federer has often said that he loves playing for the fans, and the fans in turn love that he feels that way. The result is a mutual admiration society that is so full of mush it would be only slightly misplaced in a Nicholas Sparks novel.