Roger Federer has called for more to be done “to help, coach and mentor” Emma Raducanu and other young tennis players so they are better able to cope with criticism and abuse.
Warning of the perils of social media for the “younger generation”, the eight-time Wimbledon champion suggested he may have struggled to handle what he branded a “horrible situation” had such platforms existed two decades ago.
The 40-year-old highlighted the breathing problems that forced Raducanu to pull out of her fourth-round match at Wimbledon this summer and the on-going mental health issues that have seen Naomi Osaka miss much of the season.
Both women faced criticism when their difficulties first emerged and, speaking before Raducanu’s fairy-tale US Open triumph, Federer told GQ magazine: “I was following Emma Raducanu’s incredible run in Wimbledon and also Naomi Osaka these last few years – it’s been amazing, both of their stories.
“But it hurts when you see what happens and when they don’t feel well. The stress is so great. And I think a lot has to be down to social media: the first ten years of my life there was no social media, maybe I had just a website, then the next ten years social media was everywhere.
“We need a revolution. Or at least an evolution of where we are today. I think we do need to help, coach and mentor the younger generation more. I can’t imagine going through the beginning of my career with social media; I have no clue how I would have handled it.
“For every ten nice comments there’s always one negative comment and, of course, that is the one you focus on. It’s a horrible situation. Even when I am feeling down I know I need to act a certain way in front of the world’s press.
“We need to remember that tennis players are athletes and professionals, but we are also human too.”