AS someone who has done it, got the T-shirt and wept the tears, Roger Federer had only words of sympathy and encouragement for Andy Murray, the man he had condemned to a fourth successive defeat in a Grand Slam final less than 24 hours earlier.
"I've been there," Federer said on his return to Wimbledon yesterday. "I know how it feels. I believe it's good to sometimes get it out. I think he won over a lot of people and the hearts of the fans because of the emotions he showed in Australia and now again here. I think it does show that we are human. I know we put on a poker face out there when we play and we try hard and smash serves and balls.
"Then all of a sudden, when everything's said and done, it's different. We do care so dearly about winning and losing. We do care about what the crowd think. Of course our hearts are broken, obviously for Andy in a big way. But he's still got so many years left. And the opportunities will come around if he has a good mental focus for the full year."
In talking about Murray's tears on Centre Court, Federer recalled one of the moments when he cried in public, after losing to Rafael Nadal in the final of the 2009 Australian Open.
"The thing that hit me was that actually I was just exhausted," Federer said. "In the first moment, you just put your head down and go: 'Man, that was so close.' And you have to wait a year [for another chance]? Are you serious? You're disappointed because you've played some of your best, greatest tennis. There can only be one winner, but sometimes you wish it could be two.
"Then you're like: 'All right, I'll handle this.' And you walk out and 15,000 people feel bad for you. Next thing you know it's a bit awkward. That's the hard part. You'd be happy just to stand there, hold the trophy, take pictures, sign autographs, no problem. But then to have to talk and speak, that's the hard part."
"I was extremely happy yesterday, but I also thought that it was very important to be very respectful towards Andy's situation. I get the sense of how the crowd felt as well."
Looking fresh and relaxed in leather jacket and denim jeans, despite having left the official Champions' Dinner in London's West End less than 10 hours earlier, Federer spoke of his own emotional moment at the end of Sunday's final, when he looked up into his player box to see his wife, Mirka, with their twin daughters, Myla Rose and Charlene Riva.
"They have seen me win before, but this was completely different because it was Wimbledon, where so many of my great victories happened," Federer said. "Of course I felt very emotional seeing the family and sharing such an intimate moment in all the craziness that was happening."
Federer added: "I think the dream of Mirka has been almost fulfilled by them [the twins] being on Centre Court watching the trophy ceremony. It's almost too good to be true."
Sunday's victory was Federer's 17th in a Grand Slam final, extending his own record. Considering that it was his first Grand Slam triumph for two and a half years and took him back to No 1 in the world rankings for the first time for more than two years, did the 30-year-old Swiss regard it as his greatest triumph?
"I don't know, but looking back this is definitely a special place in my heart because there were so many components to making this one unique," he said. "I was aware of it before the match, during and after and today again. It was a great match to be part of."
Federer admitted that his seventh Wimbledon title had not come as a surprise. "I think I've played so well over the last years that I always felt I was near to winning Grand Slams," he said. "I've beaten all the other guys so many times. They've also beaten me, so I know that you lose some, you win some.
"You hope to string the victories together when you need them, and I was able to do that at this tournament. So to me it doesn't come as a huge surprise, particularly as it is Wimbledon. I know when I am playing well I can beat them. But it's hard, time and time again to prove it."
In less than three weeks' time Federer will return to the All England Club for the Olympic tournament. Although he won doubles gold in Beijing in 2008 playing alongside Stanislas Wawrinka, Federer suffered surprising singles defeats in all three of his previous Olympic appearances, to Arnaud Di Pasquale (in the bronze medal match in Sydney), to Tomas Berdych (in the second round in Athens) and to James Blake (in the quarter-finals in Beijing).
Federer said: "Right after Beijing I thought: 'It's going to be incredible to be playing the Olympics at Wimbledon.' That's how I feel right now, but I realised that having an Olympic gold in Beijing was going to take a lot of pressure off me in London. I thought it was going to increase with people talking about it, because it's one of the three big goals of the season.
"I've played 50 to 60 Slams in my career and so it feels very different, but it doesn't change the fact that I hope I can do well here at the Olympics, make my country proud, enjoy myself again and savour the unique experience here.
"Playing at the club and having the opportunity to do that is quite something for our generation of players."
Record winners: grand slam titles
17 Roger Federer (4 x Australian Open; 1 x French Open; 7 x Wimbledon; 5 x US Open)
14 Pete Sampras (2 x Australian Open; 7 x Wimbledon; 5 x US Open)
12 Roy Emerson (6 x Australian Open; 2 x Wimbledon; 2 x French Open; 2 x US Open)
11 Rafael Nadal (1 x Australian Open; 7 x French Open; 2 x Wimbledon; 1 x US Open)
11 Bjorn Borg (6 x French Open; 5 x Wimbledon)
11 Rod Laver (3 x Australian Open; 2 x French Open; 4 x Wimbledon; 2 x US Open)
10 Bill Tilden (3 x Wimbledon; 7 x US Open)
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