Throwback: Tennis legend Roger Federer denied entry at Wimbledon for lack of membership card

Former tennis icon Rodger Federer remains one of the greatest athletes to have graced the court. His excellent repertoire saw the Swiss star winning 20 Grand Slam titles in his career. Even after retirement Federer’s measure of influence remains undisputable, as he was the only player to have the Wimbledon title five times from 2003 to 2007 on-the-trot – a record only matched by Bjorn Borg.

No other tennis player has won two separate Grand Slams five times in-a-row. However, on one occasion the Swiss was denied entry at Wimbledon for something only Federer knows best to share.

Federer denied access at Wimbledon

Roger Federer, renowned eight-time Wimbledon champ shared a story of how he was denied entry to the esteemed Wimbledon tennis club due to not being able to produce a membership card. It was at the Daily Show with host Trevor Noah that Federer said that his fame and success failed to convince one security guard that he should be allowed to enter the club for a cup of tea.

 “The doctor’s appointment was done, I looked at the watch and saw we had two hours to kill, so we thought we could have tea at Wimbledon,” explained the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

“I’ve never really been to Wimbledon when the tournament isn’t on, so I drove up to the gate, where guests usually come in. My coach was with me at the time, and I go up to the security lady like, ‘I got this.’ But I did not!”

Instead, his multiple attempts to convince one rule-abiding security guard that he should be allowed entry proved futile. “She asked me if I had a membership card… I honestly didn’t know anything about a membership card; it’s probably at home somewhere. I told her I didn’t have the card but I am a member, and I was just wondering how to get in… She tells me, ‘You can get in on the side, but you have to be a member.’

Roger Federer without his card was forced to play the joker, explaining to the guard that he did deserve entry to the club, with or without a card in hand. “I’m in a panic now, and I feel so bad about this but I look at her and say, ‘I’ve won this tournament eight times. Please believe me, I am a member. Where do I get in?’” Federer said.

However, with the ploy not working, Federer was forced to find another entrance where a passerby saved the day for the star, asking for a selfie in front of two new security guards who were immediately enlightened to his presence. “The security guards that are there, they’re like ‘oh my god Mr Federer, what are you doing here? Do you have your membership card?’ I’m like, no I don’t, but is it possible to get in? ‘Of course, we’ll open the door, let me organise it’.” Federer added.

Once allowed entry, Federer sat down for tea with the club chairman for an hour and his troubles were settled.

When did Roger Federer last play Wimbledon?

In September 2022, Roger Federer officially retired from professional tennis and remains the current record-holder for most Wimbledon titles in men’s tennis, ahead of the seven won by William Renshaw, Pete Sampras and Novak Djokovic. Federer won eight of his 20 Majors at Wimbledon.

Roger Federer
CBC Sports

The Swiss legend’s last time in Wimbledon was in 2021, where he lost to Hurkacz Hubert in the quarterfinals 3-6, 6-7, 0-6. However, he returned to Wimbledon this year as the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) who celebrated the Swiss maestro’s achievements at the grass Major in a special ceremony on the Center Court.

Victor Okechukwu

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