Roger Federer responds to Boris Becker's controversial comments

By on June 18, 2015

HALLE, Germany – Roger Federer responded to comments that he doesn’t get along with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, which were written in a new book by Boris Becker.

Becker also wrote that Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam champion, doesn’t express his true feelings out of concern for his earnings and image.

“I don’t really know what he was trying to say,” Federer told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. “I know him somewhat well and we get along really well. He was a hero of mine. It’s odd to hear that. I don’t try to please everyone. I’m just trying to be myself.”

Federer did not speak directly about his relationship with Djokovic, long his rival and recently the sport’s most successful player. But he said Becker’s comments, made in his book, Wimbledon: My Life and Career at the All England Club, out last week, have more to do with the Federer brand than who he is as a person.

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Becker also noted a decline in interest in tennis because of a lack of fire-brand personalities in the sport.

“Does [Becker] get carried away by seeing too many advertisings [of me]? Maybe,” Federer said. “And then he thinks, ‘Oh, that’s [Federer’s] image.’ But he knows very well who I am.”

Federer, the world No. 2, will go for an eighth Wimbledon crown beginning June 29 in London. Becker, 47, is a three-time Wimbledon champion, including at the age of 17 in 1985.

Federer also chalks up the comments to a bottom line – for Becker’s book.

“Books are there to be sold,” he said. “I read into that [comment] a bit more like that.”

Federer is arguably the most famous current tennis player in the world, trumping other top stars like Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Djokovic. The 33-year-old enjoys home-court advantage at tournaments around the world. In 2014, Forbes ranked Federer the highest-earning tennis player for the year, earning an estimated $ 56.2 million in prize money and endorsements in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

His celebrity is evident on the grounds here in Halle, as well.

It was 2012 at this event when the tournament officially named one of its passing streets “Roger Federer Allee.” He is competing this week for an eighth trophy at this tournament.

“Maybe it’s a big misunderstanding,” Federer said of Becker’s comments. “Maybe it’s something he truly feels is the case. All I know is that I was brought up to be polite and to respect everybody. I feel like it’s important to be a role model for kids. If that’s a problem, I’m sorry.”

Becker writes in the book that Federer and Djokovic “don’t particularly like each other.” He continues: “The reason Roger is one of the highest-paid athletes of all time is because he’s liked by everybody. But think about this – you can’t possibly be liked by everybody. […] He makes good money out of his image, but would he make less if we saw a bit more of his true feelings?”

Becker took to Twitter late last week saying that his thoughts had been misconstrued in the media, adding that if people wanted to know what he really thought they should… buy his book.

“After reading multiple lies/misquotes in the media about my opinion of [Federer] let me tell you all: I have the utmost respect,” Becker tweeted. “For him as a player/man/legend of our sport!!! In fact I like to call us friends…”

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