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Party on

Federer relishes homecoming after Wimbledon victory

Posted: Monday July 4, 2005 7:19PM; Updated: Monday July 4, 2005 8:15PM
Wimbledon champion Roger Federer enjoys the view in his native Basel, Switzerland.

BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) -- There was no loud music, no fireworks and no drunken fans -- but for the world's top tennis player, it was the perfect homecoming party.

Three-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer made a quietly emotional return to his home city of Basel on Monday -- 24 hours after his almost flawless victory over Andy Roddick.

Wiping the occasional tear from his eyes, the 23-year-old was cheered on by about 3,000 fans after arriving in the city's market square.

Making his way to the balcony of the local parliament building, Federer then presented his Wimbledon trophy -- or at least a miniature souvenir version of it.

"This is an absolute dream for me," Federer told the crowd. "It's the first time ever that I've come directly home from winning a Grand Slam tournament and to have so many people here -- it's a gigantic feeling."

"Perhaps it's not quite as loud as somewhere like Italy or South America," Federer told Reuters afterward. "But with individual sports like tennis, it's always hard to know how many people will turn out.

"I didn't know whether there would be two people or two thousand so to have this many is really something special for me -- something I'll always remember."

Earlier, Federer had been congratulated by Swiss President Samuel Schmid, but his welcome in Basel was a local affair.

Tributes were paid by regional government ministers, fan club members, football players from FC Basel and multiple Oscar-winning film producer Arthur Cohn.

"He's a great person, a great sportsman and a great champion," FC Basel coach Christian Gross said as Federer signed more autographs.

"He's also been a great supporter of our football team, which is part of the reason so many of us came along today. But mainly we're here to congratulate Roger on another unbelievable performance."

As easygoing off the court as he is relentless on it, Federer seemed happy to soak up the applause but reluctant to stay too long in the limelight.

Often described in his younger days as being "too nice" to succeed in professional sports, Federer has emphatically proven the critics wrong with a desire to win that has now seen him go undefeated in 21 successive tournament finals.

On Monday, he served further notice that the hunger is still strong.

"It's fantastic to be able to show this small version of the trophy off to you all," Federer told his fans. "But of course I want to have the big one in my hands again soon, because it's a feeling that you just can't describe."

The U.S. Open, Switzerland's Davis Cup tie against Britain in September and the season-ending Masters Cup will be the next big targets in Federer's sights.

But having slept just two hours since Sunday's victory, Federer said he was first looking forward to getting some rest, starting with a two-week holiday "on a beach somewhere."

A quiet beach -- naturally.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.