Roger Federer is set to commandeer Rod Laver Arena for a gala charity exhibition match on Wednesday 8 January.
Four-time Australian Open champion and winner of a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles, Federer will take on his friend and foe, world No.10, charismatic Frenchman and Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in what promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime tennis and entertainment event.
“I hope it’s going to be a sell-out night and we will raise awareness and raise a lot of money if possible and just have a good time. That was the idea behind it and it is all coming true. I’m looking forward to the day that I step on to Rod Laver Arena and do it.“It’s going to be called “A night with Roger Federer and Friends”, it’s going to be very entertaining, and it would be great if you could be part of it,” Roger Federer said as he announced the event today.
“Good acts, entertainment, music, light-show, clearly the match – I hope that’s what you’re coming for, to see me play against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. We’ve had some great exhibitions in the past where we really light up the crowd. I know I’m going to be playing good tennis and it’s a great way to kick off the Australian Open.
“I’m celebrating ten years since my first victory in Australia, and I’m celebrating ten years of the Roger Federer Foundation. I spoke with Tennis Australia to see if we could do something a bit fun, a bit different as well, and I hope that’s why people are going to join in the action.
“You can get involved by going to get a ticket … they are on sale this Thursday. I hope there are still some left because they’re very hot and very exclusive,” Federer joked.
Federer is passionate about the work of the Roger Federer Foundation, which will share in the proceeds of this special event.
“The foundation is very personal to me clearly. We are celebrating the tenth year of the Roger Federer Foundation on the 23 December, I can’t believe it’s actually been ten years, but we try to help kids, particularly in Southern Africa to have a quality education and so far we’ve been able to help 50,000 over the course of the last ten years … we have big goals for the future to hopefully help one million kids by 2018 so it’s really something I’m looking forward to, to try and help as many kids as possible have a quality education in the future.
“My Mum’s from South Africa so I was in touch with poverty quite early and I saw also other great athletes, inspirational people, do many great things for other people.
“As I was quite young when I had success on the tennis tour I wanted to start [charity work] early, because I remember a quote, I think it was from Andre Agassi, he always said “I wish I would have started earlier”, so you know what, I said I want to start really early, learn a lot about it, I’m still not done learning, I learn something every single day when it comes to the foundation and even from tennis, but it’s something that’s very important to me, it’s very personal, and it’s hopefully going to follow me for many, many years to come.”