My Federer Obsession:
Tennis in My Youth

William Skidelsky

When I saw Roger Federer play for the first time in 2003, tennis didn’t mean much to me, but...

By 2003 when I first saw Roger Federer, tennis didn't mean much to me but this hadn't always been the case. As a boy I loved the sport with an all-consuming passion. Between the ages of about five and eleven, it was--by some distance--the most important thing in my life.

I first played it--or a version of it--in the south of France. My parents owned a house in a village called La Garde-Freinet, a treacherous hour's drive from Saint-Tropez. We used to stay there in the holidays, but in 1981, when I was five, we decamped there for a whole year as my father, a historian, had taken a sabbatical from his university job in order to write the first volume of his biography of the econ¬omist John Maynard Keynes.

My eight-year-old brother and I attended the local school, where we learned idiosyncratic French (in my case, a tortuously ungrammatical Franglais) and formed tentative friendships with other kids from the village. Our younger sister was born in December that year--the first home birth in the village, as the local paper noted, for more than half a century.

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William Skidelsky is the author of Federer and Me: A Story of Obsession. He is an author and freelance writer, the former literary editor of the Observer and a contributor to the Guardian. He played tennis to the county level as a junior and now plays club tennis in southeast London, where he is first team captain. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Federer and Me: A Story of Obsession

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