An improbable tennis match between two young girls staged on the rooftops of Finale Ligure in Italy showed that not even the Covid-19 lockdown rules could stop their spirit of friendship and love of sport.
Vittoria Oliveri, 13, and Carola Pessina, 11, attend the same tennis centre and their coach had encouraged all the children there to keep running daily drills. The girls came up with the idea to play together, while staying apart - buildings apart – lobbing the ball to each other from roof to roof, a distance of 15 metres.
A video of the girls, playing on their own Centre Court in the sky, went viral with ten million views. And there was a nice sequel to the story.
The girls were invited along to what they thought was a media interview and were asked about their favourite players.
“Roger Federer,” said Vittoria. “If I were to meet him, I would jump on him, or I would be starstruck.” And Carola added: “I would like to have Federer’s elegance and Nadal’s power.”
Just at that moment a curtain was drawn back and Federer, winner of 20 Grand Slam titles, walked in with his racquet to the total astonishment of the girls. They played some rooftop tennis, had lunch, then Federer told them he had arranged for them to go to summer camp at the Rafa Nadal Academy.
Federer said: “I have played in many cool places around the world, but this one is definitely up there for me as a special experience.”