“I Still Get Butterflies” - Just Shy Of 30, Roger Federer Has No Plans To Quit

“I Still Get Butterflies” - Just Shy Of 30, Roger Federer Has No Plans To Quit

In an exclusive interview, Swiss tennis star Roger Federer talks about aging, stage fright, and returning to No. 1.


Jörg Allmeroth

After losing to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, Roger Federer took advantage of his time off to vacation with his wife and twin daughters. But just as quick, the Swiss tennis star was back on the court, at the Dubai Championships. No better time than the heart of the winter back in his native Switzerland to catch up with a tennis star for an exclusive interview.

After your defeat in Melbourne against Djokovic, there was talk of a changing of the guard in tennis, talk of a break, like the end of the reign of Federer and Nadal. What kind of break was there supposed to have been? Novak Djokovic, who won the Australian open, is a respected tennis pro, and has been for some years. There is always some interplay among the top three or four players, but we haven't seen anything recently that could be described as a turning point. I can't describe something that doesn't exist. We also don't have any prodigies that are coming out of nowhere. There are four or five top players in the series, and none of them is a clear frontrunner.

In the headlines, only the top four players get most of the attention. The rest are almost exclusively seen as accessories. There is actually a lot of movement in the rankings behind those top four players - there are many great players, interesting players. But we can't expect to see new faces pushed to the top as soon as they enter the arena. New players need time, even more time than before. Because the tennis circuit now lasts ten and a half months, it's a permanent competition at the highest levels, with no breaks, no easy games, no moments of relaxation. We can't expect miracles from our young players.

The trend seems to be moving away from young superstars who win grand slams in their teens. As we saw with Kim Clijsters, even a 27-year-old mother can make it to number one. In fact, the entire game of tennis has become more competitive and more athletic. To get to the top, you need a lot more staying power than you did before. But there are some new players who are promising, like Milos Raonic from Canada, but they still have a rocky road ahead of them. We can't assess them fairly after only three strong weeks.

You turn 30 in August. How will this affect you, and how has tennis and life on tour changed for you as you have gotten older? Honestly, I don't really feel like I'm about to turn 30. The years go by extremely fast in this business. You don't even notice time passing. Of course, I am very fortunate to have been successful. Success makes things a lot easier. The first years on tour were so much tougher, plagued with self-doubt, questioning myself if I was good enough. When I was younger, it was also much harder to take media criticism. Nowadays, I'm living in a dream.

In Australia, you did not look very devastated when you lost to Djokovic. Why was that? Because I felt that in spite of that one failure, I was, and still am, on the right track. And because I was in top shape physically. There have been tournaments that left me completely exhausted, tired and ready to leave, where I thought after a defeat: Oh dear, how am I going to be able to keep going? But in Melbourne, it was completely different. I'm ready to aim high this year. I plan to win big tournaments this year, and to once again be number one.

What do you consider to be your biggest challenge as a tennis player? To stay healthy, to be fit. I have no insecurities as to what I can or cannot do. I know that I can achieve anything if I'm physically able to do so. Today, I'm much better trained than I was in my younger years. I know what I have to do and how I have to do it. I know my limits, and I know how to balance games, training, and the season. Inexperienced players tend to exceed their limits quickly. If you push yourself too much, you may have a moment of success, but after that you'll be in big trouble.

Do you still get stage fright when you're in a tournament? I get anxious, of course. Always. Before each tournament starts, before any big match. When it becomes routine, you have to stop. Walking into a full stadium still gives me some butterflies. Just like it did on my first day as a pro player.

Do you have a set plan for how long you will continue your career? No, not yet. But I think I'll continue well after the 2012 Olympics. The games in London are an important milestone. But I think that I'll still have some very good years after that.

Read the original article in German

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The Food Truck, A Sign That The White And Wealthy Are Moving In

In San Diego, California, a researcher tracked how in the city's low-income neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked dining options, when interesting eateries arrive the gentrification of white, affluent and college-educated people has begun.

Balboa Park Spring Fling Food Truck festival

San Diego Food Trucks via Facebook
Pascale Joassart-Marcelli

SAN DIEGO — Everybody, it seems, welcomes the arrival of new restaurants, cafés, food trucks and farmers markets.

What could be the downside of fresh veggies, homemade empanadas and a pop-up restaurant specializing in banh mis?

But when they appear in unexpected places – think inner-city areas populated by immigrants – they're often the first salvo in a broader effort to rebrand and remake the community. As a result, these neighborhoods can quickly become unaffordable and unrecognizable to longtime residents.

An appetite for gentrification

I live in San Diego, where I teach courses on urban and food geographies and conduct research on the relationship between food and ethnicity in urban contexts.

In recent years, I started to notice a pattern playing out in the city's low-income neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked food options. More ethnic restaurants, street vendors, community gardens and farmers markets were cropping up. These, in turn, spurred growing numbers of white, affluent and college-educated people to venture into areas they had long avoided.

This observation inspired me to write a book, titled The $16 Taco, about how food – including what's seen as "ethnic," "authentic" or "alternative" – often serves as a spearhead for gentrification.

Take City Heights, a large multi-ethnic San Diego neighborhood where successive waves of refugees from places as far away as Vietnam and Somalia have resettled. In 2016, a dusty vacant lot on the busiest boulevard was converted into an outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44. There, food vendors gather in semi-permanent stalls to sell pupusas, lechon (roasted pig), single-sourced cold-brewed coffee, cupcakes and tamarind raspado (crushed ice) to neighborhood residents, along with tourists and visitors from other parts of the city.

Informal street vendors are casualties.

A public-private partnership called the City Heights Community Development Corporation, together with several nonprofits, launched the initiative to increase "access to healthy and culturally appropriate food" and serve as "a business incubator for local micro-entrepreneurs," including immigrants and refugees who live in the neighborhood.

On paper, this all sounds great.

But just a few blocks outside the gates, informal street vendors – who have long sold goods such as fruit, tamales and ice cream to residents who can't easily access supermarkets – now face heightened harassment. They've become causalities in a citywide crackdown on sidewalk vending spurred by complaints from business owners and residents in more affluent areas.

This isn't just happening in San Diego. The same tensions have been playing out in rapidly gentrifying areas like Los Angeles' Boyle Heights neighborhood, Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, New York's Queens borough and East Austin, Texas.

In all of these places, because "ethnic," "authentic" and "exotic" foods are seen as cultural assets, they've become magnets for development.

Food vendor at outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44.

Fairat44 via Instagram

A call for food justice

Cities and neighborhoods have long sought to attract educated and affluent residents – people whom sociologist Richard Florida dubbed "the creative class." The thinking goes that these newcomers will spend their dollars and presumably contribute to economic growth and job creation.

Food, it seems, has become the perfect lure.

It's uncontroversial and has broad appeal. It taps into the American Dream and appeals to the multicultural values of many educated, wealthy foodies. Small food businesses, with their relatively low cost of entry, have been a cornerstone of ethnic entrepreneurship in American cities. And initiatives like farmers markets and street fairs don't require much in the way of public investment; instead, they rely on entrepreneurs and community-based organizations to do the heavy lifting.

In City Heights, the Community Development Corporation hosted its first annual City Heights Street Food Festival in 2019 to "get people together around table and food stalls to celebrate another year of community building." Other recent events have included African Restaurant Week, Dia de Los Muertos, New Year Lunar Festival, Soul Food Fest and Brazilian Carnival, all of which rely on food and drink to attract visitors and support local businesses.

Meanwhile, initiatives such as the New Roots Community Farm and the City Heights Farmers' Market have been launched by nonprofits with philanthropic support in the name of "food justice," with the goal of reducing racial disparities in access to healthy food and empowering residents – projects that are particularly appealing to highly educated people who value diversity and democracy.

Upending an existing foodscape

In media coverage of changing foodscapes in low-income neighborhoods like City Heights, you'll rarely find any complaints.

San Diego Magazine's neighborhood guide for City Heights, for example, emphasizes its "claim to authentic international eats, along with live music venues, craft beer, coffee, and outdoor fun." It recommends several ethnic restaurants and warns readers not to be fooled by appearances.

Longtime residents find themselves forced to compete against the "urban food machine"

But that doesn't mean objections don't exist.

Many longtime residents and small-business owners – mostly people of color and immigrants – have, for decades, lived, worked and struggled to feed their families in these neighborhoods. To do so, they've run convenience stores, opened ethnic restaurants, sold food in parks and alleys and created spaces to grow their own food.

All represent strategies to meet community needs in a place mostly ignored by mainstream retailers.

So what happens when new competitors come to town?

Food vendor at outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44.

Fairat44 via Instagram

Starting at a disadvantage

As I document in my book, these ethnic food businesses, because of a lack of financial and technical support, often struggle to compete with new enterprises that feature fresh façades, celebrity chefs, flashy marketing, bogus claims of authenticity and disproportionate media attention. Furthermore, following the arrival of more-affluent residents, existing ones find it increasingly difficult to stay.

My analysis of real estate ads for properties listed in City Heights and other gentrifying San Diego neighborhoods found that access to restaurants, cafés, farmers markets and outdoor dining is a common selling point. The listings I studied from 2019 often enticed potential buyers with lines like "shop at the local farmers' market," "join food truck festivals" and "participate in community food drives!"

San Diego Magazine's home buyer guide for the same year identified City Heights as an "up-and-coming neighborhood," attributing its appeal to its diverse population and eclectic "culinary landscape," including several restaurants and Fair@44.

When I see that City Heights' home prices rose 58% over the past three years, I'm not surprised.

Going up against the urban food machine

Longtime residents find themselves forced to compete against what I call the "urban food machine," a play on sociologist Harvey Molotch's "urban growth machine" – a term he coined more than 50 years ago to explain how cities were being shaped by a loose coalition of powerful elites who sought to profit off urban growth.

I argue that investors and developers use food as a tool for achieving the same ends.

When their work is done, what's left is a rather insipid and tasteless neighborhood, where foodscapes become more of a marketable mishmash of cultures than an ethnic enclave that's evolved organically to meet the needs of residents. The distinctions of time and place start to blur: An "ethnic food district" in San Diego looks no different than one in Chicago or Austin.

Meanwhile, the routines and rhythms of everyday life have changed so much that longtime residents no longer feel like they belong. Their stories and culture reduced to a selling point, they're forced to either recede to the shadows or leave altogether.

It's hard to see how that's a form of inclusion or empowerment.The Conversation


Pascale Joassart-Marcelli is a Professor of Geography and Director, Urban Studies and Food Studies Programs at San Diego State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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