A high-flying, sports-mad friend of mine said he wouldn’t be attending the game that took place between the supernovas of tennis, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, in Cape Town last month because, and this is a direct quote, “I don’t do exhibition matches.” Well, I can say with absolute certainty that said mate lost out — in straight sets.
If you’d asked any one of the 50,000-odd humans who packed Cape Town Stadium for the evening to witness the two adversaries (and friends) play, you’d have gotten a sense of its significance immediately. The energy and goodwill were incandescent. They were also a reminder of the importance of sports as a unifier, and the power of a worthy cause too. Ask Trevor Noah and Bill Gates — who joined Federer and Nadal for a totally amusing doubles match — and they’d no doubt agree: it was a top night.
In case you missed it somehow, the match took place to raise funds for the Roger Federer Foundation. The tennis star’s initiative has been working with charitable programmes in Africa and Switzerland for years. It runs school-readiness projects in primary schools in southern Africa and, to date, over one-million children have benefited from the interventions. The foundation has invested more than $52-million over the years, and the money raised from the Cape Town bonanza goes to the cause too.
It must be said that I got a particularly good glimpse of the whole event. Sitting courtside with celebs like Ryk Neethling and Maps Maponyane, in my tennis whites (I mean, I had to), went straight to my head. And so did the Moët that I was sipping from mini fluted bottles brought in specially for the gig. The Fed is a global ambassador for the champagne house, so it was only too happy to get involved and sponsor his charitable work. In fact, as Stéphane Baschiera, president and CEO of Moët & Chandon, put it, “Moët & Chandon is honoured to support Roger Federer in this historic edition of The Match in Africa, as a symbol of our shared belief that success is more precious when accompanied by an unwavering generosity.”
A bit of a disclaimer — my sipping on the good stuff had actually started the day before, when I got to mingle with the gorgeous, charming, and totally impressive Mr Federer (yes, I have a wee crush) at a brunch hosted by Moët & Chandon in the gardens of the Belmond Mount Nelson. In his linen shirt and slacks, the effortlessly chic legend chatted, posed for pics, and took on some of the guests — Bok captain Siya Kolisi included — for a point or two on a tiny, tiny tennis court.
I snapped away wildly for my Instagram feed, and then, I have to admit, I made for the Moët vending machine. The only one on the continent, this utterly brilliant contraption dispenses the aforementioned little bottles of bubbly at the drop of a gold coin. A must for every household, don’t ya think?
• From the March issue of Wanted 2020.