Federer hugged by lion mascot and addresses return during Shangai ceremony

Roger Federer returned to the Shanghai Masters on Friday for a special ceremony as he was named the “icon athlete” of the tournament. The retired tennis legend watched old match clips and answered some fan questions during a presentation that also saw a strange moment where Federer had an encounter with a lion mascot.

The Shanghai Masters is being staged for the first time since Federer’s retirement after taking a four-year hiatus. The Swiss star reached the quarter-final last time the tournament was played in 2019 and he was back this time around to be honoured during an on-court ceremony on day 10 of the event.

The tournament director presented the two-time former champion with presents before Federer reflected on some of his past matches in Shanghai. The 42-year-old then took part in a Q&A with tennis legend Li Na and rising star Zhizhen Zhang coming onto the court to ask Federer the questions that had been submitted by fans.

Federer was asked a big one – whether he was ever tempted to return to the tennis tour. It prompted some cheers from the fans who hoped to see him back on a court. But the 20-time Major winner quickly shut down any suggestions of a comeback.

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“I’m extremely happily retired like Na Li,” Federer smiled. “For me, there’s no coming back. I had an absolute blast on the tour. I feel like I took the lemon and I squeezed it out until the last drop. I gave it all I had and there’s none left and now I’m just a super tennis fan like all of you.”

But the former world No 1 didn’t rule out a return in a different way as he shared his hopes of embarking on an exhibition tour later on in his retirement. He continued: “But what a journey it’s been and it took me here to the most incredible places on the planet to play tennis and it’s been incredible. Of course, I miss those moments but now another chapter has begun and the last year has been terrific.

“Unfortunately less tennis [but] more tennis with the children. But I hope that down the road maybe I can play an exhibition match back here in China, here in Shanghai even, and around the world so I can play in front of all of you again.”

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Federer revealed that he was still getting out on the court with his four children, who recently attended tennis academies over the summer. “I play a lot with my children but the problem is that I am still the dad and that creates the problem,” he laughed.

“So if I was the former super player and not the dad that would be easier but as the dad there is an emotional twist, highly complicated.” And it appears that the 103-time title winner is enjoying lift after professional tennis. “I mean change has been great,” he explained.

“Just having a life where I can dictate much more where I’m going to go, what I’m going to do. Meet up with friends and family and just also thinking a little bit more further ahead than just the next tournament, the next practice and so forth. I feel like life in a way is much more simple.”

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