Swiss tennis icon Roger Federer has fought back tears in a touching tribute to his former coach, who died in a freak accident while on his honeymoon.
The all-time tennis star let his emotions get the better of him during an interview recorded for CNN in the lead-up to the Australian Open on Monday night.
After candidly talking about growing up playing tennis in Switzerland, the 37-year-old lost his composure when the conversation shifted to his former coach Peter Carter’s impact on his technique and life.
Federer reminisced how Carter waltzed into his life when he was a nine-year-old playing at Old Boys Tennis Club in Basel, Switzerland, in the 1990’s.
While Federer was still only learning the game, he said Carter was one of the star players on the team and always put time aside to coach him personally.
Now, years later, Federer attributes his world record 20 grand slam titles to the form Carter taught him all those years ago.
Tragically, Carter was in a fatal car crash while on his honeymoon in South Africa – just one year before Federer won his first title in 2003.
Carter’s Land Rover swerved to avoid a collision and plummeted of a bridge, killing him and the driver while his wife Sylvia watched on from another car.
When Federer learnt of his coach’s death, he ran through the streets ‘bawling and hysterical’.
‘Sorry. Oh, man, I still miss him so much. I hope he would be proud,’ Federer said in his tearful interview.
‘Geez, never broke down like this.’
Federer said he never really believed in his monumental talent until the day he learnt Carter had died.
‘He didn’t want me to be a wasted talent. It was somewhat of a wake-up call for me when he passed away, I really started to train hard.’
Federer has since filled his trophy cabinet with accolades, including eight Wimbledon titles.
In 2019, he’ll look to defend his 2018 Australian Open victory, saying Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic is the man to beat.
But among thousands of rowdy Federer supporters, two will stand out – Carter’s parents Bob and Diana, who Roger flies to Melbourne from Adelaide each year to watch him compete in their son’s memory.
Roger Federer’s inspirational former coach died in a car crash on his honeymoon in 2002.
Nearly two decades on, Federer still gets emotional when he talks about Peter Carter.
— CNN Sport (@cnnsport) January 7, 2019