Watch: Federer Whips Bill Gates Into Shape... For a Good Cause
It was a nice exhibition, when Bill Gates and Roger Federer played doubles together at the “Match For Africa 4” in Seattle last April and, with the help of John Isner, helped raise more than $2 million for the Roger Federer Foundation. But you don't win 92 tour-level titles by being complacent.
So before Gates and Federer play another exhibition together in March, Federer demanded that Gates stepped up his game – everything about it. The multi-billionaire needed to get stronger, faster, smarter – “Well, maybe not smarter,” Federer said – and better dressed.
“You'll train like I do,” Federer told Gates.
“Whatever it takes, Roger,” Gates obliged.
Watch: My Story: Roger Federer, Delivered by FedEx
So Gates embarked on a “Get Better” campaign with Federer. The Microsoft founder lunged hundreds of pounds, lifted tires, did so many sit-ups Federer couldn't keep count – “infinity plus two,” he said while training Gates – and read about one of his favourite sports. Gates read “String Theory”, the tennis essays of American author David Foster Wallace.
But by the end of their training session, which also included them volleying on a thin wire thousands of feet in the air, Gates is ready for “Match For Africa 5”, which will take place 5 March at the SAP Center in San Jose, Federer's first match of any kind in the Bay Area.
“Roger and I are 1-0 as a doubles pair after last year’s event, so I’m hoping we can keep the streak alive while raising money for an important cause,” Gates said. “Roger might have a few more Grand Slam titles than I do, but we share a belief that all children deserve a world-class education. His Match for Africa events are a fun way to help make that happen.”
Federer said, “I believe in the power of people. We know that a good education is a decisive factor to empower children by allowing them to take their future into their own hands... With my foundation, we want to provide one million children with the opportunity for a quality education by the end of 2018. The Match for Africa 5 in San Jose will help us reach our ambitious goals. I am very grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with Bill Gates, who in my opinion is the world’s leading philanthropist.”
Federer and Gates will play a friendly one-set doubles match against NBC News' TODAY co-anchor Savannah Guthrie and World No. 8 Jack Sock of the U.S. Federer and Sock will then play a best-of-three sets match.
“I’ve been lucky enough to face Roger a few times in my career, but never in support of such an important cause,” Sock said. “I hear Roger’s Match for Africa events are a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to taking part.”
This is the fifth Match for Africa event for the Roger Federer Foundation, which has given $36 million to support children’s education in six African countries and Federer’s native Switzerland. An estimated 850,000 children across 18 programs have so far benefitted from the foundation’s giving, which emphasises systemic change and sustainable impact.
Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased starting at 9 a.m. PST on 26 January from the SAP Center Box Office, Ticketmaster.com, or by phone at (800) 745-3000. A limited number of VIP ticket packages are also available, which include premium end-court seats, exclusive hospitality and a unique opportunity to participate in a 20-minute Q&A session with Federer and Sock prior to the night's match.