NEW YORK, New York — While best known for his exceptional tennis swing and athleticism, tennis star Roger Federer is also a renowned humanitarian. Ranked the highest-paid athlete on the Forbes 2020 list, Federer earned $106.3 million from tournament wins and sponsorship deals from June 2019 through May 2020. Federer is on track to become the first billionaire in tennis, however, Federer does not spend these millions just on himself. Instead, he uses his money and celebrity platform to give back and help alleviate poverty. In 2006, UNICEF gave Federer the title of Goodwill Ambassador, a title given to humanitarians dedicated to improving the lives of children all over the world.
The Roger Federer Foundation
Founded in 2003, the Roger Federer Foundation is committed to providing early childhood education to six low-income countries in Africa as well as Federer’s home country, Switzerland. The Foundation focuses on long-term partnerships, believing that the best way to help others is not just to provide money and leave but to provide skills that can be used to help future generations. The Foundation does not create new educational organizations, but instead, coordinates with existing NGOs, teachers and schools to provide better access to education for students. The Roger Federer Foundation has had impressive success, spending more than $52 million on education initiatives in more than 7,000 early childhood schools. The Foundation has impacted more than 1.5 million children since its founding.
Tennis Matches for Poverty Relief
Federer recognized the attention his tennis matches receive and has found ways to channel the attention for a good cause. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Federer organized Hit for Haiti, a tennis tournament. The ticket proceeds went to earthquake relief. Due to his large fanbase and popular name, the event raised more than $200,000 for Haiti disaster relief.
Federer also hosts an annual Match in Africa event consisting of celebrity tennis matches to raise money for the Roger Federer Foundation. The fun matches consist of high-profile guests such as Bill Gates, Rafael Nadal and Trevor Noah. The events create impressive revenue and raise awareness. Federer has hosted six of these events so far. Each match has raised millions to help support education in Africa.
Like many other celebrities around the world, Federer felt a strong call to action when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and thus, he redirected his humanitarian efforts to help those who are specifically vulnerable. As the virus spread, Federer continued his support for young children in Africa, pledging $1 million to provide meals to students while African schools were closed during the pandemic. The money is enough to supply 64,000 vulnerable children with meals. Federer also stepped up to support his home country, Switzerland, donating CHF1 million to Swiss families in need.
In his giving to others, Federer sets a positive example of celebrity humanitarianism. Education reduces poverty, improves healthcare and helps to create a civil and productive society. As the Foundation’s mission statement says, “The Roger Federer Foundation enhances a world where children living in poverty are able to take control of their future and actively shape it.” Federer’s humanitarian work has helped to provide children with the education and skills to rise out of poverty.
– Georgia Bynum