In many cultures around the world, expressing emotions is not really a comfortable zone to enter for everyone, especially for men. It has always been a particularly difficult area because that is how society has built it up for them. It is okay to express anger, but feelings like sadness and love must always be kept in check. Even today, men are told that being emotional means they are inadequate and not masculine enough. As a result of this stigma, many men feel that it’s not okay to cry. They might hide their emotions, choosing only to cry in private, or not at all.
However, with the increasing discourse around toxic masculinity and mental health stigma, many people are finally starting to believe that it should be acceptable for men to cry. And why not? It only shows how well-tuned men can be with their emotions.
The outdated stereotype of ‘boys don’t cry’ was shattered by tennis legend Roger Federer who steeped into retirement after a legendary 24-year career at the Laver Cup on Friday night. The 103-time title winner was robbed of the chance to retire on a high, as he and Rafael Nadal lost to Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe. Federer was left emotional as he bid goodbye to professional tennis.
Roger Federer Farewell Match
One of the most loved sportspersons, Federer played his last competitive match late on Friday night at the O2 arena before bidding farewell to a glorious career in front of his contemporaries, his family and his fans.
The victors, the scoreline, and the stats didn’t matter. It all came down to the hugs, hand holding, and bawling sessions. Or more accurately, the infinite farewells: Federer’s to tennis, to the fans, to his competitors and colleagues.
“It’s been a perfect journey,” Federer said. “I would do it all over again.”
When the match ended, and it was time to hang his boots, Federer hugged Nadal, then Tiafoe and Sock. And began crying. There were plenty of tears to go around; Nadal wiped his own away, too. If there’s one thing you all need to watch today, watch this.
Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer in tears after Federer’s retirement is the best sports moment you’ll see in some time.
Ultimate respect. 🐐🐐 pic.twitter.com/fUeY8wQSTM
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 23, 2022
Later, Federer’s wife, Mirka, their four children — twin girls and twin boys — and his parents joined him on the court for embraces and more tears flew. Members of Team Europe and Team World joined together to hoist Federer up in the air. It was a beautiful sight.
“It does feel like a celebration. It’s exactly what I wanted at the end, exactly what I hoped for,” he said, wiping tears away in his post-match interview with the crowd applauding him supportively to help him through it.
Beyond the elegance and effectiveness while wielding a racket, it is Federer’s ever-smiling persona that made him an ambassador for tennis. It says a lot when the world’s top sportspersons with immense popularity display raw emotions in public, erasing the stereotype of ‘boys don’t cry’. It allows his followers to understand that it’s okay to be human. It’s acceptable not to be tough all the time, and perpetuates to find strength in vulnerability.
We must not equate emotions to gender, so next time, prevent yourself from using phrases like “man up” when someone expresses their feelings in front of you. Because they have gathered a lot of courage to break the century-old stereotype to open up. We are currently living in a society where empathy is lacking, and toxic masculinity is still a rampant problem. If we allow boys to be sensitive and not just tough, we can raise a new generation of men who don’t feel they have to adhere to antiquated cultural constructs. Man up but only like Federer and Nadal.