Tell Roger Federer a joke in French, and he might not laugh like he would if you told it in English. Or Swiss German, for that matter.

Tennis’ multilingual maestro says his sense of humour is different depending on what language gear his mind is running in at the time.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion is fluent in English, French, German and Swiss German, the distinctly different version of the Germanic lingo spoken in his homeland. Add into the mix some South African blood on his mother’s side and Federer starts to appear a bit like a one-man United Nations of tennis.

The downside is that after each match, the 29-year-old Swiss appears at news conferences where he is asked in English to talk about his game, his rivals, his standings, his prospects for becoming the greatest tennis player ever, and the like. Then, he does it again in French. Then German. And so on...

“Sometimes I wish I never told anybody I learned French or something like that,” Federer said, adding quickly that he’s proud to have learned the language and all the others because it gives him a chance to relate to more people than he could otherwise.

He said it is all part of “what I have to do in the tennis world.”

“That it comes at a cost, sure, but I don’t mind it. I try to have fun with it,” he told reporters during the English part of his news conference after beating Stanislas Wawrinka.

“I have almost, I don’t want to say characters, but I have different humour in all the different languages, which is kind of fun for me, too,” he said. “Getting to know myself through different languages is actually quite interesting for me.”

One language Federer does not speak is Spanish, the native tongue of arch-rival Rafael Nadal. Federer said the two have become friendlier over the years, and while they don’t exactly hang out together, they chat and see each other regularly. “We talk about many things, but tennis probably being one of them at times, yeah,” Federer said.

Keywords: Australian Open

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