- Mirka Vavrinec emigrated with her parents from Slovakia to Switzerland
- Her interest in tennis was fired by meeting Martina Navratilova
- She went on to become a decent player, reaching No 76 in the world
- Vavrinec met Roger Federer at the Sydney Olympics in 2000
- The pair married in 2009 and have four children – two sets of twins
- She also has major input into Federer’s ‘look’ and fashion adventures
- Mirka is said to even supervise the way Roger has his haircut
After the birth of his second set of twins this summer, Roger Federer faced a question similar to that of any newly-besotted father — when should he go back to work?
The prestigious Italian Open was soon to start and he was scheduled to be there, so he consulted with his family, and above all wife Mirka, about what to do. It did not sound like a long conversation.
A few days later in Rome, a happy and smiling Federer recalled in jesting fashion: ‘They said I should quickly come and play here. I said “Well, if you don’t want me around I’ll go away”.’
Mirka watches Federer in action at Wimbledon in 2012 with the pair’s twin daughters Myla and Charlene
Federer had a row with rival Stan Wawrinka after Federer’s wife ‘heckled’ him during their ATP finals match
This response from Mrs Federer was not unexpected, for she has always been driven in her support of her husband’s career and, as a former player herself, fully understands that the business of tennis has to come first for now.
Perhaps more surprising was that Mirka had got herself to Paris a fortnight later, along with their four children, in order to be in the stands for his opening match at the French Open.
It must have been quite a logistical effort with new twins Leo and Lenny just three weeks old, but then their lives are famously well organised.
And Mirka is renowned for the steely back-up she provides for world-famous Roger.
Mirka is an ever-present at the Swiss star’s games, and shows the strain on day three at Wimbledon in 2013
Just how unbending that support can be was illustrated on Saturday night in London, when she apparently upset his friend and opponent Stan Wawrinka with some well-chosen words.
It cannot always be easy to be married to a sporting phenomenon like Federer, who transcends tennis and has become as much its global ambassador as its most decorated player.
He wields enormous power in the game and has an almost presidential status. That being the case, his wife might be akin to the First Lady.
Beyond the cliche of every successful man having a strong woman behind them, there is no question that Mirka Federer has played a considerable part in the achievements of her extraordinarily talented spouse.
Nobody who knows them well would tell you otherwise.
‘Not much gets past Mirka,’ is how one confidant put it in assessing her influence. In most individual sports there is usually at least one family figure who has been disproportionately responsible for the success of an athlete — most often a parent — and particularly in tennis.
Federer’s father Robbie and mother Lynette have, however, been among the more relaxed of the breed and for most of his adult career it has been Mirka, 36, who has been a key force. Critical to their successful and happy partnership has been her understanding and ambition, which derives itself from her own experiences as a professional whose career was cut short.
As Miroslava Vavrinec, Mirka emigrated with her parents from Slovakia to Switzerland at the age of two and her interest in tennis was fired by meeting Martina Navratilova at a tournament seven years later.
Mirka emigrated with her parents from Slovakia to Switzerland at the age of two
Her interest in tennis was fired by meeting Martina Navratilova at a tournament seven years later
Federer, pictured with Mirka at the Laureus World Sports Awards, says his wife has seen over 900 matches
She went on to become a decent player, reaching No 76 in the world. The Swiss writer Rene Stauffer, author of Federer’s biography, illustrated her innate determination by relating how, as a junior, she once journeyed through civil war-riven Croatia just to play a tournament.
Most significantly for her life, it took her to the Sydney Olympics in 2000, where she met the 20-year-old Federer. Her career was not to flourish as his did and within two years she retired with a persistent foot injury. From then on she dedicated herself to her boyfriend’s career, starting as his public relations conduit but then becoming indispensable in all areas.
In 2009 they married and she gave birth to their first set of twins, Charlene and Myla. These days she rarely speaks publicly but is very visible in Roger’s support box and behind the scenes, where she is seen as a quietly formidable figure.
In a rare interview with Swiss magazine Schweizer Illustrierte, she emphasised the value of her own tennis knowledge, saying, ‘That’s why we get along so perfectly. No other woman could deal with so much tennis. If he wants to sleep long I definitely won’t wake him by getting up early.’
However, she clearly expects to come into her own when Federer’s body can no longer take the grind of the circuit.
Referring to his lofty status as a player she said: ‘You are that only once in your life. My time is still coming. After the tennis. We have discussed this.’
For now she serves as a multi-tasker extraordinaire, gatekeeper to her massively in-demand husband as well as his emotional and practical support.
She also has major input into his ‘look’ and fashion adventures, a few of which have backfired. It is said she even supervises the way he has his hair cut.
Federer has often said how grateful he is to her for providing the stability and family happiness that is his inspiration.
The spat with Wawrinka is an exception to the smooth running of their lives. The verbals from courtside perhaps tell of something she has in common with her husband: underneath it all lies a supreme competitor.