Tournament director Ralf Weber honoured record-holding champion Roger Federer for his exceptional service for Germany’s most important men’s tennis tournament on the Centre Court at the TERRA WORTMANN OPEN on Wednesday. “It was and emotional moment to see you back here in Halle, in front of the fans“, Weber said during the ceremony at the OWL ARENA. “You were always an outstanding ambassador for the tournament with your modesty and closeness to the fans.” Weber honoured the relationship of trust over the last decades and talked of a “connection that is anything but the rule.” Minutes of applause as Weber called to the 41 year-old Swiss at the end of his speech: “Thank you for everything you have done for this tournament.”
Federer, who had landed in Paderborn from Switzerland in the morning, thanked also for the “extraordinary trust I have always experienced here:” That probably helped also that I played here so successfully. For me it is unbelievable to have won here ten times.” It was actually the first visit to a tournament for Federer after his withdrawal last September. “I gladly came to the 30th anniversary. It is nice to have been able to shape this tournament.” It felt strange, good and also funny. “I am not used to it anymore.” Federer said. Then the star turned to his fans and said, very emotionally: “It means a lot to me today, this visit. We’ll meet again“.
Federer, the record-holding champion, had arrived in his beloved tennis empire around midday and had been greeted by tournament director Weber in the COURT HOTEL. “It is a great pleasure to welcome you here“, Weber said. “You are and will stay a part of this tennis family.“ Federer was accompanied amongst others by his father Robert Federer, who also used to be a regular guest at his son’s performances in Halle.
The legendary Swiss “Maestro” had triumphed for the first time on the grass in HalleWestphalia against Nicolas Kiefer 20 years ago. The meanwhile 41 year-old super star fetched his last of 10 titles against David Goffin (Belgium) 2019. Federers brilliant tournament balance looks like this; 69 match wins, eight losses. He won Halle and Wimbledon four times consecutively from 2003 until 2006
Federer and the German ATP grass classic underwent a long-time relationship: the player signed a, until then without example, Lifetime Contract which meant he was bond to the tournament week in HalleWestphalia and thus to Germany’s largest men’s tennis competition. He played his last match at the OWL ARENA 2021 in the round of 16 against Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Federer had come to Halle in his own car in the first years of his tournament engagement, he also remembered in a conversation with journalists on Wednesday: “But then I found the drive too long”. He then came by plane, but always with the feeling to have an extraordinary time ahead. “I always liked being close to the fans here. That it was also a possibility during all of the stress in the competitions between Paris and Wimbledon to not have this hectic, this excitement”, he said to the press office of the TERRA WORTMANN OPEN. “The sport partners became friends very quickly. This relationship to the tournament, to the people here was very, very special.”
His family, overall his children, also had liked the journeys to Halle very much. “They didn’t need New York of Paris to feel comfortable. They thought it was cool to go into the woods, to be in the nature here in Halle“. Federer had particularly enjoyed the tournament that had a „sportive touch“, which were family-run, especially towards the end of his career.
Federer then did something which he had done with a friendly smile after nearly all of his 77 matches in HalleWestphalia – signed autographs. He signed dozens or even hundreds of autographs for all of those who were at the 30. TERRA WORTMANN OPEN because of him on this Wednesday afternoon.