Joanita Wibowo

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Roger Federer's touching Aussie ritual that will warm your heart: "I hope he would be proud"

Roger Federer's touching Aussie ritual that will warm your heart: "I hope he would be proud"

Since he began his professional tennis career in 1998, Roger Federer has competed in various tournaments across the world.

But only at the Australian Open does he have a special ritual.

Since 2005, an elderly couple has accompanied the world number three player and his team every year at the Melbourne event.

The pair are Bob and Diana Carter, parents of Federer’s first international coach, Peter Carter.

Federer was just nine years old when Carter took him under his wing. The Australian coach helped Federer develop his signature technique of a one-handed backhand.

“I think if I can say thank you for my technique today, it’s to Peter,” Federer told CNN Sport in January.

Carter died aged just 37 in 2002 in a car accident while honeymooning in South Africa.

According to The Australian, the then-20-year-old Federer “ran through the streets bawling” upon hearing the news.

David Law, a former communications manager at the Association of Tennis Professionals, said on his podcast that the incident prompted Federer to leave behind his temperamental attitude. 

“That made Federer grow up incredibly quickly because I don’t think he’d ever had to think about mortality before,” said Law.

“This is someone he knew well, who he saw every day, who he travelled everywhere with.

“It hit Federer incredibly hard and I think that – and this is a feature of Federer as a boy becoming a man – is that at every stage of his life, whatever has happened, he’s digested what has happened and he’s learnt from it.”

Federer said of Carter, “I guess he didn’t want me to be a wasted talent, so I guess it was somewhat of a wake-up call for me when he passed away and I really started to train hard.”

When asked what Carter would think of his 20 grand slams record, Federer said, “I still miss him so much. I hope he would be proud.”

In tribute to the late coach, Federer has reached out to Carter's parents every year since 2005.

Every December, Federer’s team would send an all-expenses paid itinerary to the Adelaide-based couple, including flights and accommodation details and Australian Open tournament tickets.

The Carters can usually be spotted sitting behind Federer’s coach in Rod Laver arena.

This year, Federer finished in the fourth round of the Australian Open after losing to Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas.