Roger Federer was so nervous the first time he went to Wimbledon he asked the umpire an embarrassing question he later regretted

Getty ImagesRoger Federer.
  • Roger Federer was not always the king of the Wimbledon courts.
  • In fact, his very first outing at the All England Club began with embarrassment.
  • This is because Federer, at 16, made an umpire double-check a net as he thought it was so high it could have been fit for volleyball.
  • Unfortunately for Federer, that has not been his only faux pas at Wimbledon – but, as an eight-time Wimbledon champion, his successes far outweigh the epic fails.

Roger Federer is revered for the tennis IQ he exhibits on Centre Court at Wimbledon, but the 36-year-old was not always so sports savvy.

In fact, his very first appearance at the All England Club began with embarrassment as a young, inexperienced, and nervous Federer made an umpire check a net because he thought it was too high.

“I remember going on court and as I am warming up I felt that the net is really high, something was wrong,” Federer said, according to TennisWorldUSA.

Federer, 16 at the time, was set to compete a first round junior event in 1998 and spoke to the umpire to make sure the net was the right height – something he later regretted, and put down to pre-match jitters.

“So I go to the umpire and I ask him, ‘Did you check the net? The height is right?’ Because I feel like it’s so high, and he goes, ‘Yeah… I checked. It’s right.’ I am like, ‘I’m sorry, can you check it again?’ And then, he does me the favour. He goes and checks again the height of the net and he says ‘It’s correct, I am sorry.'”

Federer remembers thinking the height was the size of a “volleyball net.” He said: “Of course it’s correct, it’s Wimbledon. You think they would mess it up?

“But I guess I was so nervous that I felt like I was playing over a volleyball net. Anyway, I ended up winning that match and everything was ok afterwards. But I think I had a bit of those big nerves. Going into my first Wimbledon, per se.”

That is not Federer’s only embarrassing mistake at Wimbledon, as the Swiss veteran also put his trousers on the wrong way around for an official tennis event in 2007. There is even photographic evidence – and it still haunts him to this day.

As an eight-time Wimbledon champion, though, Federer’s many successes far outweigh his few epic fails.

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