Roger Federer has long been considered one of the nicest players off the tennis court, a statement the Swiss confirmed for the umpteenth time in 2013. The 20-time Grand Slam champion made Beatriz Tinoco, a 17-year-old fan of his who had struggled with cancer for two years, the happiest fan in the world by hosting her at the All England Club.
When approached by the Make-A-Wish foundation during her time battling the disease, Tinoco put forth a request to meet the former World No. 1 at his favorite tournament, the Wimbledon Championships. The wish was granted by Federer, who went above and beyond to make it a memorable experience for her.
Firstly, the fact that he had agreed to the request was conveyed to her through a pre-recorded video message. The clip showed a replay of his championship point against Andy Murray in the 2012 edition, followed by an invitation to SW19 from the 40-year-old himself.
“Hi Beatriz, I heard you’re a big fan of mine, so I’m inviting you with your family to come watch me play at Wimbledon. Go pack your bags, have a safe trip, and I’ll see you there,” the message went.
When the 17-year-old turned up in London, it was originally scheduled to be a simple meet-and-greet. The World No. 27, however, took it upon himself to extend her stay and make the holiday last an entire weekend.
The American recounted the experience in a series of tweets (archived here), recalling how the 20-time Grand Slam champion allowed her to come watch him practice with former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt. After spending a good quarter of an hour making conversation with Tinoco, the Swiss asked her to change into her tennis clothes so that they could hit together.
The World No. 27 even went on to give her one of his own racquets after realizing that she did not have one. It was followed by a tour of the stands with Federer acting as her guide and she also got to sit in on his press conference before the tournament as well as getting several autographs.
Just before the end of the weekend, Tinoco revealed, the 20-time Grand Slam champion spent a long time chatting with her and her family despite protests from his manager.
The American also added that Roger Federer bade farewell to her with a warm hug, whispering in her ears that she had “gone through a lot.” Unable to control her emotions at this point, the 17-year-old burst into tears, prompting the former World No. 1 to console her.
“We talked for about 10-15 minutes (which I was told later he wasn’t supposed to do. He was just supposed to come and say hi and then go to practice but he’s a perfect human being and talked to me for a while!” Tinoko said.”He would have stayed there the whole day, just talking to us. He stayed a lot more than he had to for sure. He went around the table hugging my mom, my dad and my sister, and then it was my turn. He told me I had been through a lot and hugged me really hard and I just started crying so so so much in his shoulder.”