Above: Roger Federer with some of the children supported by his child development foundation. All pictures: Roger Federer Foundation.
Winning the world’s biggest tennis tournaments year-in, year-out makes a person incredibly wealthy.
For Roger Federer, it’s resulted in a net worth of around $450 million—if you believe those celebrity wealth estimation websites. So what does the tennis great do with all his wealth?
He could – as many do – buy more sports cars, mansions and cattle ranches. But instead, for the past 15 years he’s been putting his wealth and support into the lives of thousands of children in Africa.
‘The Fed’ as he is affectionately known, began his charity, the Roger Federer Foundation, in 2003 at the young age of 22. He started with a child development project in South Africa, where his mother Lynette is from, and where Federer spent a lot of time as a child on family holidays.
It’s a part of the world he has a lifelong passion for, saying in a foundation video that Africa is “very close to his heart”, and the place he wanted to “give back to”.
Now in 2018, the foundation is running child education projects in six southern African nations including Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zambia—as well as in his own homeland, Switzerland
The charity aims to have touched the lives of a million children by the end of 2018, and right now, they’re very close to achieving that goal. Right now, there are more than 300,000 children being supported by the organisation’s programs.
The goal of the Roger Federer Foundation is to educate kids in order to set them up for the rest of their lives. They take a wholistic approach, partnering with local NGOs and backing up their education programs with food, hygiene, teacher training and infrastructure.
“This package looks different in each and every country depending on the context. Everything starts with a very good knowledge of the context,” says the organisation’s website.
If you hadn’t heard about the Roger Federer Foundation until now, it’s probably because the star doesn’t like to trumpet his charity work too loudly.
“I’ve got to keep raising more money and talking about it a bit more, even though I keep it on a low level—because I feel like the work is what matters, not what people think of what you’re doing,” he said.
In a video that follows one of Federer’s visits to Malawi, the tennis star says he loves the fact that he’s almost anonymous when he spends time at his projects in Africa.
“They have maybe no clue who I am,” he says. “Not one person [says], ‘Oh you’re the tennis player’, and that’s so wonderful, that’s exactly how I want it to be.”
Federer, who has four children of his own, has won eight Wimbledon titles, six Australian Opens, five consecutive US Opens, and the French Open, along with his hundreds of other tennis achievements.
He bowed out of Wimbledon this week, losing to South African Kevin Anderson.