Roger Federer was born in Basel, a Swiss town close to the borders of Germany and France. As a boy, he quickly learned to speak a variety of languages, as is the norm in Switzerland.
Known for his ability to switch between languages during his entertaining interviews, what languages does Roger Federer speak?
Roger Federer, according to the legend himself, speaks “Swiss German”, German, English, and French fluently. Roger Federer can also converse in Italian, Swedish, and a little Afrikaans, thanks to his South-African mother, Lynette Federer, ensuring that his media interviews are always entertaining.
For over two decades, Roger Federer let his irresistible style of classy, effortless tennis do the talking on the court.
Off the court, when facing the media, Federer has a way with words, keeping his interviews entertaining by speaking “Swiss German,” German, English, and French without missing a beat.
What Languages Does Roger Federer Speak?
Roger Federer is a gentleman of many talents. Tennis was his biggest talent and the one that allowed him to visit over 40 countries in his 24 years of playing on the ATP Tour.
The second talent that we got some glimpses of during thousands of media interviews is his mastery of fluently speaking the following languages:
- Swiss German
Roger Federer Speaks (Swiss) German
More than 60% of the Swiss population speak German, or various forms of Alemmanic dialect called Swiss German.
Swiss German is Roger’s first language, and as he stated in a 2010 interview, “When I am out on the court, I usually think in Swiss German or English, and less in French since it’s the language that I learned last.”
Here’s an interview with Roger Federer speaking German:
In a recent 2019 interview with Vogue, at the iconic center-court of Roger’s beloved Wimbledon, he was asked what languages he speaks. Federer replied, “I speak Swiss German, German, English, and French.” According to Roger, his family calls him R”ose (Swiss German for Roger) and plain old Roge.
The other main languages in Switzerland are French, Italian, and Romansh (a Rhaeto-Romanic language that evolved from Latin.)
Roger Federer Speaks In English
Swiss German is Roger’s mother tongue, and according to the legend himself, “I grew up with Swiss German, so it’s the language I am most comfortable with, since it’s the one I spoke the most in, and then English comes in second as I began speaking English when I was very young with my mother as she is South African.”
Here’s Roger Federer speaking English:
English, together with German, is Roger’s second language, and he speaks it as fluently as any of his majestic shots.
Staying true to his upbringing, Roger teaches his children Swiss-German and English as first and second languages. Federer does make mention that his mother and father-in-law are teaching the children Slovak.
Roger Federer Speaks in French
The French-speaking part of Switzerland is found in an area known as the Romandie. When Roger was 14 years old, he joined the Swiss National Tennis Academy, located in the French-speaking part of the country.
Federer did not speak French when he arrived there and was nicknamed the “Swiss German” for his lack of French communication skills.
Roger did not let the isolation and communication barrier deter him and stayed at the academy for 3 years. Today the “Swiss German” communicates in French as fluently as any Frenchman.
Here’s Roger Federer speaking French:
Other Languages Federer Speaks
When you visit Ticino in Switzerland, you’re expected to know a little Italian as it’s the main language spoken here and in other parts of Graubünden. Federer is the first to admit that he speaks a little Italian, and we can classify his mastery of the language as a beginner at best.
Growing up with a South African mom, Roger would have heard the occasional Afrikaans word here and there, but not enough to make him fluent, as his mother taught him English. Additionally, Federer speaks a little Spanish and Swedish as well.
Roger Federer On What Language To Speak With The Media
Roger Federer is an absolute media favorite. The authentic way he conducts himself while being grilled by the media, the humor he brings to boring questions. Of course, the ability to easily converse in up to 4 languages ensures that the most interviewed sports star on earth is always well received.
Over the years, Roger has had some truly funny and authentic moments when facing the media. Roger Federer never shied away from being honest and himself, always giving the media a sneak peek into what Roger is all about as a person, rather than just Roger the tennis player.
If there’s one person who can advise tennis peers and the next generation, it’s Roger.
Roger had this to say on how politically correct the new generation has become in the face of a media onslaught, “Some players, I think, struggle with it. I would like to see more players just being themselves in front of the press, being more relaxed about it, not worrying so much about making mistakes.”
Federer feels that some players have “gotten a little bit too robot-like” and states that the key to staying fresh in a barrage of thousands of similar questions is to spice it up by not always talking tennis.
On the use of languages, the GOAT states, “Number one, I think talking in different languages is always an interesting thing.”
Federer mentions that he tries to see “the press as sort of a bridge” and a platform to promote tennis as an interesting sport by giving the reader or viewer a little more extra than “My forehand worked well, the second serve I have to improve,” which is monotonous.
How Many Languages Do Federer’s Rivals Speak?
For most of their careers, the big three, Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, have been competing against each other for the most Grand Slams, the longest run as No.1, the most career titles, and so forth.
We know that Roger speaks a minimum of four languages fluently, but how do his biggest rivals compare?
What Languages Does Rafael Nadal Speak?
The world smiles when Nadal speaks English, and Federer claims, “Nadal’s accent makes everything a 100 times funnier.” Nadal’s home language is Spanish and Catalan (a variety of Spanish spoken in central and northern Spain.)
Rafa can speak French quite well, as witnessed when he won the French Open, like in 2015 when he gave the French crowd a treat. There are rumors that he dabbles in Italian, but we don’t get to hear it too often; maybe he reserves that for his beautiful wife, Maria.
What Languages Does Novak Djokovic Speak?
The final member of tennis’ three musketeers, Novak “Nole” Djokovic, was born in Serbia, and we can safely assume that he is fluent in Serbian.
Add English, Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese to the list, and you get an idea of how far he beats his two closest rivals regarding language titles.
Novak is not only a collector of titles but also a language connoisseur and a firm believer that when you visit a country, you need to understand and speak the basic phrases of the country’s language. The legend says, “It changes the energy and vibes you feel from the people you are communicating with.”
The supremely talented Roger Federer announced his retirement recently, playing his last competitive game with his arch-rival Rafael Nadal during the Laver Cup in London.
When his retirement speech was done, there wasn’t a dry eye in the arena, and messages in all languages flooded the internet.
Roger could probably understand a lot of them without using google translate; what a man, what a great champion what a legend.