Hailed as a hero
Federer's Wimbledon achievement sparks Swiss jubilationPosted: Monday July 07, 2003 1:44 AM
ZURICH, July 6 (Reuters) -- Switzerland's sports minister and the man who taught Roger Federer to play led his compatriots' tributes to the new Wimbledon champion after he became the first Swiss man to win a Grand Slam singles title.
Federer overpowered Australian Mark Philippoussis on Sunday, six years after compatriot Martina Hingis clinched the women's crown.
Marc Rosset won the Olympic title in 1992, but Federer's success -- the first in any Grand Slam event for a Swiss man -- was celebrated as a far greater achievement.
Friends and fans cheered the win at the Old Boys' Tennis Club in Federer's hometown of Basel in northern Switzerland, where the champagne flowed at the end of the match and the bar announced beers on the house for everyone.
"Roger showed some tears at the prize ceremony, and I must say that I have tears too," Seppli Kacovsky, Federer's first coach, told Swiss television.
"I think it's fantastic not just for Roger but for the Old Boys' Club and tennis as a whole in Switzerland," he added, brandishing a bottle of champagne.
"This is unique what he has done. I thought he could win it from the quarterfinals and I am so pleased," he said.
Swiss sports minister Samuel Schmid, who traveled to Wimbledon for the showdown, compared Federer's victory to Swiss yacht Alinghi's surprise win in the America's Cup in March.
"After this superb result in tennis, this country has every right to be proud of these competitors who have positioned themselves in a global elite and won," Schmid said.
Niklaus von Vary, president of the Old Boys' club where Federer has been a member since childhood, said the club wanted to build a new court and name it after the 21-year-old, who they made their youngest-ever honorary member in 2001.
"I didn't think it was possible, but with Roger everything is possible and I think it will only continue," von Vary said.
Swiss media have taken Federer to heart during the two-week Grand Slam in London, hailing the long-haired player as an everyday hero who likes to keep his feet on the ground.
The SonntagsBlick newspaper said the secret of his success was the tight-knit team that looks after him, headed by Swedish trainer Peter Lundgren and physio Pavel Kovac.
Swiss media have also made much of the role played by Federer's girlfriend, 25-year-old Miroslava Vavrinec, who acts as sponsorship agent and press officer.
The SonntagsBlick said that a 20-strong team of friends and family had flown to London to watch the final, including his mother and godparents.
However, Federer's father, Robert, remained at the family home in the Basel region, telling the SonntagsBlick: "I have to keep an eye on the house."
Federer is due to play in the Swiss Open next week in Gstaad with his first match on Tuesday against a qualifier, Marc Lopez of Spain. The tournament is held on clay.
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