Roger Federer, a genius who made tennis look effortless, is going to be in the news a whole lot more now that he’s agreed to meet with the president-elect in early January. The timing of that interview will be a major distraction to Trump, because he wants to get something on Federer at least. He has made clear that he doesn’t think Federer should be punished for the way he played Trump over a few months in the summer. It was widely condemned, but in his mind, it wasn’t a crime of the sort that would be punished if he were a celebrity or an athlete. He’s a genius who plays well.
The more interesting question is why he feels compelled to offer him an interview—a chance to say that it’s not his fault that the president will never change.
That’s not an unusual or inexplicable sentiment for Federer, the highest-paid athlete in the world. In May, he said on the air that he was “heartbroken” by Donald Trump’s victory. In November, Trump said that Federer should sue him, because, well, let’s face it, Federer couldn’t hold a court proceeding against him: “I don’t want to do that.” A month later, he tweeted that Trump is “a moron. He doesn’t know what a court is. He doesn’t know what a judge is. He doesn’t understand anything.” He added, “If I don’t say something, he says something I’ll sue him for.”
But he didn’t sue. Which is interesting because he’s been saying so much on television lately about how Federer isn’t fit to interview for his job, because he was a bad sport, because it’s all about winning. I wonder if the reason he didn’t sue was because he had already said a pretty damning thing in the summer: “It really would be unfair to do this interview now when the election is nearly over,” he said at the time, pointing to the fact that he won’t have to testify until mid-May.
One reason for Federer to sit out the interview, even though he’ll have no conflict of interest, is that he doesn’t think he owes Trump an apology. (It’s also possible that he’s not sure the president-elect still wants