Former tennis director at Nike, Mike Nakajima, described Roger Federer as an incredibly caring and respectful individual as the Swiss once stayed for four hours in an event where he was supposed to stay just one hour. Nakajima, who was the tennis director at Nike for 29 years, once had an event where Federer was scheduled to appear and talk for an hour to kids and grownups.
In the end, Federer ended up staying at the event for four hours. “People love to hate successful people. They’re jealous. But it always astounds me that no one ever says anything negative about Roger. Because of the way he portrays himself to others, he’s loved by others.
Because he treats others respectfully, he knows the audience and can adjust his conversation based on his audience. He knows how to talk to grownups and kids. I’ve had an event where he was supposed to be there an hour and was there for four hours.
Four hours! Who does that? He knows that these are the people that watch him play. These are the people that are giving him sponsorships. He gets it,” Nakajima told CNN.
Nakajima: The money and fame never changed Federer
During his nearly three decades with Nike, Nakajima had a chance to work and get to know some of the biggest athletes in sports history.
Now, Nakajima admits there were cases when he noticed a superstar athlete changing because of money and fame. But with Federer, he never saw anything like that as the Swiss tennis icon always stayed the same caring and humble person.
“I’ve had the privilege to meet so many world-class athletes. He’s one of the top on my list, with regards Roger, the game changer, to how nice of a person he is. Yes, he’s got a lot more money and a lot more of everything.
But he hasn’t changed. Money and fame change people a lot. I’m not going to name names, but we certainly have athletes in our sport that have changed. Money changed how they see things, act and talk to people. Roger never did that,” Nakajima said.