Fatherhood for Federer

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Fatherhood for Federer

It had to be.

A love affair that has endured from teenage years to late twenties, of such singular constancy and mutual respect, had to be rewarded.

Federer has announced his "awesome news" on his website to fans—the usual constancy to his fans, too—that he and Mirka are to become parents in the summer.

One has only to see the two together to know that this is an enduring relationship, one of love, but much more. They provide succour and support for one another, and have done so since he was 18 and she was 21.

There comes a point, in such a relationship, where the clock ticks a little more loudly and Mirka, having now passed her 30th birthday, must have felt those years begin to weigh heavy.

With the advantage of hindsight, 2008 must have seemed cursed for both of them. It should have been the year when Roger broke the Grand Slam record and finally sealed his place in the record books. You can imagine the conversation: Let me get the record, Mirka, and then I’m all yours…

But the beckoning of the hormones, once they begin, is as strong as the Sirens’ song—we mothers have been there and done it! This became inevitable.

Federer has talked of his wish for children many times, so there was never any doubt that fatherhood was on the horizon. And if there ever was any doubt, the photos of him with the offspring of friends Tony Godsick and Gwen Stefani would illustrate the naturalness he has with children.

And now, suddenly, there are far more probing questions about Federer’s coming year than the Cahill debacle, the back injury, his mental toughness in the face of Nadal.

What impact will a baby—the emotional bomb that drops on you from that first moment—have on his career? Just how much focus will he be able to maintain once a tiny Federer reaches its starfish hand out to daddy?

Children give you a whole new perspective and set of priorities.

Your partner too has new emotional needs. And there’s no questioning where Mirka comes in Roger’s pecking order. Since he introduced her to his coach at the 2000 Olympics as "someone special," she’s been just that.

This story probably began in the euphoria following Flushing Meadow (a guess, looking at the calendar). Will it end with Wimbledon?

A new life—and a new phase Federer's career—has begun and he probably does not even know himself where it will lead him.

However and wherever this blessed tennis player ends 2009, he and his consort take the warmest congratulations of all of us.

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