The Wimbledon Final 2017.
Roger Federer vs Marin Cilic
Roger Federer on his way to a record breaking eight Wimbledon wins.
Marin Cilic on his way to his first.
The decision has been talked about (minutely) just before Roger (or Rogelio) had gone out onto the court. It happened by phone, it would rouse to much suspicion if Rafa was in the changing rooms, and it happened quickly.
"You know, if i win this match we could tell the world"
"Si, Rogelio, and we make out in front of entire crowd, no?"
"Of course Rafa, might even take a shirt off"
"You is idiota"
"Rafa, babe, I'm serious"
"Sí sí, of course you are"
Before Roger could open his mouth again one of the workers was ushering him to the entrance, making frantic actions for him to turn of his phone immediately.
"Look-I've got to go but-"
"Shut up Rogelio. You go out there and you win it. For me, for yourself. And if you come back looser I love you no less, I just kick you a little,no?"
"I no done Rogelio. I trust you okay?"
"What are you talking about? Why are you saying that no-"
"You figure out later when time is right. I trust you."
And with that the only noise Roger could hear anymore was the high pitched end of line sound ringing in his ear.
He shook the confusion of Rafa's final words off and drew strength from the previous ones before that.
He was gonna win this fucker of a match. And if he ended up loosing he would damn well put up a fight.
Walking out onto court, Racket loosely hanging like an extension of his arm, he quickly scanned the stadium.
The lights, the crowd, the feeling that you got every time you played a Wimbledon Final. You are history in the making and throngs of people will watch you create yours. Memories of every other final, Won or lost. The feeling of what if - what if You became the man to win most Wimbledon titles. Your name forever written into history.
He set his bags down on the chair and grabbed a bottle of water from the cool box. He quirked his lips as he placed it on the floor, reminding him if his spaniard lover and his many pre game rituals. His lover, who was every part tennis as much as he was as well as every part each other.
His eyes were drawn to the figure in his box, all tan skin and dark hair covered by a Nike cap. Beautiful dark eyes full of emotion hidden by the sunglasses on his face. No one else knew who it was, apart from his family and team. But Roger knew. And right now, that's all that matters.
First set yours.
This is the beginning.
Second set yours.
You can almost taste victory.
Third set yours.
You've won. You've won Wimbledon. For the eighth time.
Roger flopped to the floor. He was on his knees, muscles tight as he clenched his hands in victory, neck straining in a silent elated scream.
This was it. This was his moment. He's cemented into the history books, he's cemented as one of the greatest.
Roger slowly got up, brushing the blood sweat and tears off to walk towards Cilic and shake his hand. They shared some short niceties but Roger said them all on auto pilot, to shocked to form thoughts.
Roger applauded the crowd some, a huge grin never leaving his face. He glanced towards his box seeing Rafa and Diana jumping around and hugging, whooping animatedly like children. He looked at his family so supporting and proud. Roger felt a huge wash of gratefulness, that his family was so supporting and willing of his tennis and his boyfriend was as connected to it as him. He shared a big grin with all of them as they caught his eye, receiving ones equally as big.
The next few moments passed by in a haze, Rogers mind still not quite able to comprehend the achievement.
As he was listening to the rest of Cilic's speech Roger found his thoughts drifting back to the phone call he and Rafa had prior the match. He thought about how Rafa thought he was joking when he was talking about coming out. And maybe his brain wanted him to be but his heart was serious, inside a lot of him wanted to be Rafa's and Rafa to be his, and for the whole world to know. He didn't need his love justified to nor by the world but he wanted it to be seen, to be marvelled and quite frankly to be envied. Because yes, Roger Federer had the beauty that was Rafael Nadal and he wasn't letting him go any time soon. But he remembered Rafa thinking he was joking, and he admit it kind of hurt. Which brings him to the words that confused him. What did they mean? Roger couldn't help but feel Rafa meant something more.
Roger twisted the thought through his mind a few times. Twisted it until it could twist no more, let it unravel and twisted it again. He was going to give up- he didn't know- he'd have to ask Rafa later when they could steel a few moments together afterwa-
That was it. Roger knew what he meant.
Roger stepped up to the stage, trying hard for the sake of his opponent but unable to keep the giddiness of his face. He shook hands with all the men, sent a smile to Cilic, standing with his runners up plate (thank God he didn't have to hold that) and finally got his hands on the trophy. His eighth Wimbledon trophy. Roger couldn't believe where he was, coming back to a Australian open and a Wimbledon Trophy was more than he could've ever hoped for. As he held it up he could hear, feel the thrumming of the crowds in his bones. Eventually the crowd settled. Time for his speech.
"Hey guys" He held up his free hand to the crowd as they cheered.
"First and foremost thank you for being hear and supporting this. None of this could be here without you guys" The cheering got louder and from the corner of his eye he could still see Rafa going ballistic. It made him smile just that little bit brighter (if that was even possible)
"I'd also like to say congratulations to Marin, for getting to the final as well as his great performance" The crowd cheered again and he waited for it to quieten, taking in a deep breath.
"It's was so amazing for me to win one of these let alone eight. I can't describe how happy I am. I didn't even think I could get here myself. I'd like to say thank you to the people that made this possible. My family, My friends, My team." Roger inhaled again, taking in the cameras, the people and the sight of what he ( no, they) were about to do. He glanced one more time at Rafa, who was now looking at him with that look, the look that was all soft around the edges and just so full of sheer love that it made Rogers heart ache.
" but there's one person I'd like to thank more than anyone. I'm not sure if you noticed the person sitting in my box; a Nike cap on, sunglasses covering their face. But this one amazing, stunning, beautiful person" Roger paused as he took in Rafa, his breath catching a little at the beauty of the man he had by his side. " has been there for me on the tennis court, against me on the tennis court and by my side off the tennis court for years."
The crowd was loud now, Roger wasn't sure what they were thinking. He looked out of the corner of his eye to all the important people around him, their expressions confused. Roger couldn't wait to see what they looked like in a few seconds. The mummers grew louder as Rafa reached to pull off his cap. Roger idly wondered what the commentators where saying. Decidedly last minute Roger could see Rafa take his sunglasses and hat off quickly at the same time. There was a group of collective gasps Before It grew silent. Roger could see Rafa beginning to get nervous, his knee started to jog up and down and he was bitting his lip; Roger managed to catch his eyes and stop then from fluttering around the stadium. Roger gave him a look which seemed to say "it's okay, I'm here" to which Rafa slowly nodded, his knees beginning to come to a stop. The Swiss beckoned his boyfriend to come down, a gleam in his eye.
The Spaniard was currently climbing down from the box- not the easiest thing when you're in your thirties and your knees are screaming at you to stop every other day- but he took the help of Rogers father (everyone else was still stunned in silence). Rafa could feel all the eyes following his movements, making his face grow hot in embarrassment. Once his feet were on the ground he shuffled over to the stage, eyes downcast.
A few people in the crowd had started to move, showing signs of getting over previous shock. Roger could see the officials were also gaining back some composure, trying to stay professional. But mostly Rogers eyes were on his boyfriend, looking so vulnerable and shy shuffling his way over. It's been four years and maybe Rogers still a little bit whipped.
As soon as Rafa had shuffled his way onto the stage Roger grabbed him into a long closed mouth kiss, catching Rafa by surprise. The Spaniard rolled his eyes at his boyfriends antics but returned it equally enthusiastic. The crowd was still not doing much but staring, so Roger nudged Rafa towards the microphone.
The said person nervously tapped the microphone a phew times before lowering his head closer to it.
They stood there for a few seconds as a single person started to clap, and soon most of the stadium were clapping and hollering. Rafa shared a smile with Roger - this was definitely one of the better outcomes. Roger could see a few sour faces but they were far and few between and he didn't expect everyone to accept it immediately- if ever.
Rafa couldn't help but grin a little as he spoke again "thank you everybody for being so supportive. But now I go back because this is Rogelio's moment and I didn't just win my eighth Wimbledon. I still waiting for the third" The crowd let out a collective chuckle as Rafa stepped away and began to walk back to the box. "Hey" Roger said grabbing his tanned wrist before he could step off. "At least stay with me, you don't have to do any talking or anything." Rafa shook his head firmly, eyebrows drawn in as his teeth gnawed on his bottom lip. "No, Rogelio. Is your moment." Roger shook his head as well. "No stay with me." He said decisively. "This is our moment."
Rafa blushed a little, and nodded slowly before grabbing the swiss' hand and following him as he made his way around the court. Trophy in one hand Rafa holding the other. As he walked around he was congratulated by many people, of which Rafa smiled at but didn't make much of an effort to do much else. No matter how much this was 'their' moment Rafa would not steal any spotlight. They could both see the questions in their eyes but most of them kept it to a polite 'congratulations' before smoothly moving the conversation to Roger and Wimbledon, and Rafa was plently happy with that.
Whilst Roger was talking to a guy in a suit Rafa didn't know, he slipped away to go and talk to Cilic.
"Hola" Rafa spoke nervously as he tucked some of his hair behind his ear. Cilic was looking a little dazed but he seemed to shake himself out of it when he saw Rafa. "Hey Rafa" he said with an offered smile which the Spaniard gladly returned, his posture relaxing a little. "I just wanted to...say sorry. Is your moment too, no? And we say this big thing" Rafa was making gestures with his hands, trying to convey what his english couldn't. "And is surprise but kind of takes away from you guys, no?" Rafa finished with a big huff of breath, English was exhausting.
Marin smiled gently at Rafa, patting him on the shoulder " its fine. Really. I think it's great that you guys have done this." Rafa relaxed completely at that,a happier smile appearing on his face. "You're a good guy, you know. Me and Rogelio, we scared people no like." Cilic smiled another smile, but this one was coated in sadness "not everyone will accept it, Rafa. But I have no doubt you guys will get through it, some of the strongest on the atp. And I'm sure you had your reasons for doing it and whether this is one or not, you'll be doing a whole lot of other people a favour." Rafa smiled again but he looked a little confused. "Listen, I've got to go." Rafa nodded in understanding, waving a goodbye. "But, you and Roger. You're good guys too. You're going to be getting a lot of people saying otherwise but don't believe it" Rafa gave a grateful smile to him before he left.
"Where've you been?" Roger asked with a smile as Rafa slipped back to his side.
"I was just talking to Marin, no?"
Roger nodded but decided not to say anything else; he simply tugged Rafa by the hip over to crowds who were shouting their names. Rafa let himself be guided, gladly singing things and taking pictures. They signed everything together, 'Roger + Rafa' but Rafa made sure to add a little heart or smiley face to the end of each one.
Towards the end, a group of people, of all different ages, were standing with nothing to sign apart from one boy with a notepad and pen but he wasn't holding it out to them. The couple were about to skip past them, assuming they didn't want anything when a little girl reached out to Rafa's hand, stopping him immediately.
"Hey there, little one" Rafa picked her up as she giggled, reaching a little chubby finger to Rafa's cheeks. Roger stopped when he noticed his boyfriend had, smiling fondly at Rafa with the child in his arms. A wash of want crashed over the Swiss but he knew it would come later, when at least one of them was ready to have a commitment other than tennis and each other.
Roger walked up to them, smiling at the little girl and placing a kiss on her cheek before slipping an arm around Rafa's waist. As Rafa cooed over the little girl Roger addressed the group of people who appeared to be with her.
"Hey there guys" he could see a few star struck faces and he chuckled slightly. "Did you guys want something signed? A picture?" It took a few seconds for an answer and it wasn't the one Roger was expecting.
A boy stepped forward a little, a blue baseball cap perched on his brown hair. He looked around the early twenties and he had a notepad and pen in his hand. "Actually sir" Rafa snorted from his place, rolling his eyes fondly "don't call him that, it'll just inflate his ego more" everyone else chuckled a little as Roger pouted in Rafa's direction. Rafa rolled his eyes again and pulled him in by the shirt to kiss his pout away.
They broke away when they heard the sound of a camera, staring at it a little confused. The boy hit the girl with the camera, whispering "you can't just take pictures of people like that" to which she replied "what? I wanted it to be natural" the boy face palmed before turning back and addressing them again.
"I'm sorry about that but, were really big tennis fans and we came here for a great match but we managed to get more than we could ask for." Seeing their confused faces he carried on. "You see, were both" he gestured to the girl with the Camera "part of the LGBT community and we have a small blog about it. And you guys, the biggest players in tennis are together! And on your own accord you've decided to show the world and you just don't know how much it means to people around the world, too afraid be anything but straight. So we were wondering, if we could just ask you a few questions...please?"
Roger and Rafa looked stunned, they were expecting a picture or an autograph but certainly not this. Rafa suddenly understood what Cilic meant. Roger caught Rafa's eyes and they had a quick silent conversation between themselves before turning back to the boy and girl.
"I say no"
"Come Rafa, I can't do it without you"
"You do it without me before"
"Why don't you want to come?"
"I told you, no? Is your moment. Not mine"
"And I told you it was ours"
Rafa crossed his arms and pouted. He hated loosing.
"Fine. I come in"
Roger cheered. He liked winning.
Roger lead the way into the room. Many journalists were sitting, with notepads and computers, cameras and recorders, everything they needed to interrogate. Rafa was following a few steps behind, careful to keep behind Roger whilst never straying too far. He was bitting his nail nervously as he stared viciously at the nape of Rogers neck.
As they settled into the seat Rafa was presented with a spare microphone a kind lady had rushed out to get. "Gracias" he mumbled.
"Hola, I hope you no mind if I join Rogelio, no?", Rafa fumbled with the cap on his head as he spoke, pulling the accessory further onto his head and shuffling it around a little. All the reporters replied with a yes, most enthusiastic about the opportunity of a first interview with the newly out couple and the chance to get their hands on something that could make their millions. Rafa nodded once, smiling at them before gesturing to Roger, who was sitting back with small smile, in an effort to get them to start asking Roger their questions.
There were two. The first two questions were both (expectedly) about their relationship. (Well, technically there were three questions but that first question was immediately shut down by a blushing Rafa and will not be spoken of again.) The first was a simple, 'how did you two start this relationship?' Answered by Roger with a short but polite 'it started 2008, but it happened in 2013' Whilst Roger answered, Rafa was busy reaching over the swiss' body towards Roger's water bottle standing west of the older man. The Spaniard lay it down in front of him, staring at it intensely before shaking his head, picking it back up and placing it off to the side. Roger quirked his lip up at his boyfriends quirks but maintained eye contact as he finished his first answer.
The second came after, from the lips of a Welsh person wearing a bright red blazer with matching lipstick. Her voice was heavy with her accent Roger struggled a little to understand. The women asked them if it affected their play, making sure to specify at the end she wanted both of them to answer. 'It can be difficult sometimes, we both have a passion for tennis but at the end of the day we go home with each other and that's what matters the most' A few seconds of silence and Roger glanced to his right side, gifting him the sight of Rafa paying absolutely no attention to anything but his hands. The Swiss rolled his eyes fondly before nudging Rafa gently on the side. Wide brown eyes blinked up at Roger innocently, eyebrows drawn in, confusion evident. It took everything Roger had not to start pressing kisses all over his face but it wasn't the time nor place. He stared pointedly at the direction of the journalists and realisation dawned in Rafa's eyes.
"Oh, sorry, no? I think all questions gonna be for Roger," A few chuckles spread around the room whilst the lady repeated her question. "If I understand correctly, you asking if I no want to beat Roger anymore,no? Is simple, we have been doing it for years now. We still have the passion, we are still sad if we lost but in the end, is Rogelio,no? He is my everything." The Spaniard had said it with such conviction, such confidence as if he was stating a simple fact, that it made Roger's heart burst. He gently reached out to hold his boyfriends tanned hand, bringing it to his lips and kissing it gently. A few mummers spread through the journalists and it took a few minutes to go back to the questions.
"Roger- and Rafa, how will yo-" the man was cut off by a huff emitted by the Spaniard. Roger turned to see his boyfriend leaning back on his chair, arms crossed, back slouched and cheeks puffed. He looked absolutely adorable (and delectable, but that was something Roger would keep to himself). "Why you keep talking about me and Roger, you should no talk about me, I no important. Should talk about Rogelio, he just win his eighth Wimbledon, is amazing,no? So you no ask me no more, I just random guy sitting in chair next to Rogelio." The room laughed, even Roger couldn't resist a giggle. Rafa's eyebrows furrowed a little, 'why they laughing? I completely serious,no?' But eventually it died down and following Rafa's wish, all of the questions after were about Roger and his Wimbledon win. The Spaniard spent the rest of the press conference with a satisfied smile on his face.
The next day an article was published on a blog.
I, as you know, a member of the LGBT community, happened to be at the Wimbledon final 2017. Most of you may know by now, that some of the biggest athletes of our time announced they were in a relationship with each other. Lucky for me as they were signing things they were kind enough to answer some of my questions.
Question: why now, why ever? It's easy to hide.
[Roger] ' it was actually a last minute decision, we talked about it a little before the match but at the time we weren't very serious. It's hard to explain but I just understood that now was the time, that we were ready and it's what we wanted. All I needed was the nudge from Rafa and that's what I got, if in a very cryptic way.'
Question: How will you handle the criticism you will surely face?
[Rafa] 'well, we can no do much about that, no? It should not exist and makes me sad it is something we have to worry about but I try my best not to think about,no? The biggest achievement for them is if we let it get to us and break our relationship and I no want that to happen. We have support from true friends and family, we are happy together.'
Question: Lastly, do you have any words to say, a message for young people struggling through times with their sexuality, maybe even fellow athletes, celebrities?
[Roger] 'you know, it sounds selfish but when we were thinking about this, we weren't really thinking about anyone but ourselves, what was best for us. I'm not saying I won't do my best to pave a way for others, to try and change the way the world thinks and help people struggling, but it wasn't what made us do it.'
[Rafael] 'sí, I not really even think about it, no? I kind of forget. I was reminded by someone a few minutes ago and I no know what they mean until now. Is amazing, though. I hope we help a lot of people.'