The Beauty of Federer

In honor of yesterday's unbelievable, grueling, thrilling Wimbledon win (yes, that was 16-14 in the fifth set!) by Roger Federer over Andy Roddick, and Dan's reading of Infinite Jest this summer, I'd like to link to this 2006 piece by David Foster Wallace on the experience of watching Roger Federer.

Tennis is the only organized sport I regularly play and watch. I will always root for Federer when he's playing for many reasons. First, I like him as a person (or at least, as a persona). He's a bit awkward and inarticulate, but seems very good-natured. I love his calm, mature, and unruffled demeanor, so unusual in sports. Once, after seeing yet another sports figure courting a gorgeous blond model type, I remarked to my husband that I wished that one guy who has his pick of women (like these sports stars do) would pick a physics professor instead of a supermodel. Federer, very unusually, has a merely-pretty-but-not-gorgeous wife to whom he seems exceptionally devoted.

All this, of course, is next to nothing when watching him play. There is no player more elegant, graceful, perfect, awe-inspiring. And what Wallace has done better than anyone else could in this article is describe the tennis fan's experience of watching Federer, and feeling lucky enough to be a fan when he's on top.

UPDATE: As per the comments, Dan is not reading Infinite Jest this summer. I apologize to all the readers whom I inadvertently misled. He will, however, be keeping up with the blogging book club on Infinite Jest, so it still is sort of a David Foster Wallace summer, and the raison d'etre of this post stands.


  1. Wallace writes about tennis exceptionally well, and Federer's game is remarkably beautiful, such than even a ham-handed non-player like myself can appreciate it.

    Also, full disclosure: I read Infinite Jest for the second time about a year ago, and so I'm not actually reading it again this summer, but am simply following along. However, in a fit of insanity, I HAVE decided to tackle Ulysses.

  2. whew Our blogospheric integrity remains unsullied.