FOR years, I’ve begun the tennis season predicting that the upcoming year will be Roger Federer’s last on tour. 

Following the Swiss’ seventh Wimbledon victory in 2012, he endured a drought of grand slam titles which ended-up extending to almost five years, concluding with victory over his great rival, Rafa Nadal, at the 2017 Australian Open. 

For most of these years, I thought Federer was on the brink of retirement.  

How wrong I was. 

As the 2021 tennis season gears up for action, Federer is still going strong. As seems to be his speciality, the 39-year-old timed his latest injury issues to perfection, undergoing knee surgery just as the pandemic began to cause cancellations in the tennis calendar and rehabbing while the sporting world remained shut down. 

With the first tennis major of the year, the Australian Open, just weeks away Federer announced he will not be travelling down under, instead remaining at home to continue his recovery. 

Initial suggestions were that the 20-time grand slam champion was not fully fit but it has since emerged the primary reason for his absence in Melbourne is the Covid-19 rules imposed by Australia which mean every visitor must quarantine for two weeks on arrival in the country. 

With Federer’s wife and children his regular travel companions, Mirka, has expressed her reluctance at spending a fortnight cooped up in a hotel room – a stance that is completely understandable with two sets of twins.  

However, with it still unclear what international travel will look like over the next year, there is the possibility that sporting bubbles, strict restrictions and events behind closed doors are here to stay, for the short-term at least. 

This could swing it one of two ways for Federer. He might decide he is best to call it quits here; with his family reluctant to adhere to the stringent rules required to ensure sport continues in a Covid-safe environment and the Swiss unused to playing in anything other than sold out stadiums with thousands of adoring fans cheering his every win, he surely has little appetite for what tennis life will look like over the coming months. 

This year could swing things the other way though and Federer may decide he would much rather continue into 2022 and beyond, by which time he will be 40-years-old, in order to ensure he gets the send-off he has surely envisaged.  

Only Federer knows how much longer he is likely to remain on the tour. But, just maybe, the pandemic has ensured we will all be able to enjoy him for a little bit longer than we would have otherwise. 


The past week has seen conflicting information swirl around the public domain regarding the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics; firstly, Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, confirmed the postponed event will indeed go ahead this summer, saying the "Games will be held this summer" and be "safe and secure".  

However, just a few days later, the IOC’s longest-serving member, Dick Pound, put a significant dampener on this dose of optimism, revealing he remains wholly uncertain as to whether or not the Games will go ahead at all. 

Japan is currently experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases with the last week in December seeing some of their worst figures throughout this entire pandemic. 

It is these surges, which many other countries are also experiencing, which have fuelled Pound’s pessimism and a recent poll within Japan highlighted the negative feelings towards the Games, with a majority of the general public opposing the staging of the Olympics this summer in favour of a further postponement, with many supporting a cancellation of the event entirely. 

It is impossible to know what the world will look like by the end of July when the Olympics are due to begin, although my money is on the Olympics going ahead in some form or another. 

With Japan having invested an extra $2.8 billion as a result of the chaos caused by the pandemic there is, I believe, too much at stake financially to cancel the Games entirely. 

And so while it remains uncertain what the Games will be like if they do indeed kick-off on the 23rd of July, what is sure is they will not look like a typical Olympic Games. Will there be a full quota of athletes? Will there be crowds? Who knows.  

But let’s hope that for the sake of sport, Tokyo 2020 does go ahead in some capacity. 


The comments this week by former top-10 tennis player and current president of the Romanian Tennis Federation, Ion Tiriac, came as a stark reminder of the rubbish sportswomen have to put up with. 

Tiriac deemed himself qualified to comment on the age and weight of the greatest women’s player of all time, Serena Williams, reportedly saying: “At this age and the weight she is now, she does not move as easily as he did 15 years ago. Serena was a sensational player. If she had a little decency, she would retire.” 

Tiriac has previous when it comes to sexist remarks, commenting back in 2018 in a similar vein that the American was too old and too heavy to continue. 

Williams’ husband was quick to label Tiriac a ‘sexist clown’, while Williams herself, quite rightly, did not deem his comments even worthy of a reply.  

However, the fact that, yet again, Williams, who has 23 grand slam titles to her name, has to deal with this kind of abuse – and she is not the only female athlete to have this kind of rhetoric directed at her – shows there is still a way to go to eliminate sexism from women’s sport. 

Williams, though, has the correct attitude in dealing with these misogynists; ignore them and keep on winning.