Roger Federer has proved he is human after all.
The Swiss maestro was involved in a funny moment during his on-court interview following his first round win clash with Adrian Mannarino at Wimbledon.
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Federer progressed through to the second round after France’s Mannarino was forced to retire from their match after slipping and injuring his knee with the match level at two sets all.
In his post match interview on centre court, the 39-year-old was left completely stumped by a question you’d usually expect him to answer easily.
“Roger, is it true what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder, being back here?” the interviewer asked.
“Sorry, I didn’t understand it,” Federer replied with a puzzled look on his face.
“I heard something absence and then I don’t know my mind went blank.”
The interviewer repeated the question: “Is it true what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder and being back on centre court?”
“I don’t understand that saying. My English is not good enough,” Federer laughed.
The interviewer pressed on, asking: “Basically, having missed out last year, having been away for two years, how special is it to be back here on centre court?”
“Yes, there you go. A good reminder my English is not very good,” Federer said, much to the amusement of the packed crowd.
The hilarious exchange was a timely reminder that English is not Federer’s first language.
He is fluent in his Swiss German, standard German, English and French. He can also speak functional Italian and Swedish.
The eight-time Wimbledon champion was far from his best in his opening round match against Mannarino and was lucky to progress with the score 6-4 6-7 3-6 6-2.
The Frenchman, celebrating his 33rd birthday, suffered a bad fall on the grass in the seventh game of the fourth set.
Despite taking treatment from the trainer, he was hardly able to move and, grimacing in pain, had to retire.
His right knee twisted violently as he slipped on the grass and was seen immediately holding his hands to the injured knee.
“He was the better player, he could have won, I got a bit lucky,” Federer said after match.
“That’s how it goes sometimes, you don’t get many walkovers and try not to have it happen to yourself.
Wimbledon has been forced to address the safety of its iconic grass courts after a day of carnage at the 2021 Championships.
The tournament was rocked on Wednesday by the back-to-back withdrawals of Serena Williams and Mannarino on the back of injuries suffered while slipping near the baseline.
Williams’ dreams of a 24th grand slam ended in tears when forced to quit at 3-3 in the first set against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus after appearing to hurt her left leg in the stumble.
Federer said in his post match press conference: “It feels a tad more slippery under the roof.
“I don’t know if it’s just a gut feeling, but you do have to move very, very carefully out there.
“I do feel it’s drier during the day. With the wind and all that stuff, it takes the moist out of the grass.
“But this is obviously terrible that it’s back-to-back matches and it hits Serena as well. Oh, my God, I can’t believe it.”
Originally published as Federer stumped by Wimbledon question