Sports·Opinion

Joy Drop: A salute to the incomparable Roger Federer

CBC Sports Senior Contributor Shireen Ahmed's weekly roundup of the things that struck her from the week that was.

CBC Sports' senior contributor Shireen Ahmed on the week's happier moments

Roger Federer waves during the Centre Court Centenary Ceremony during the Wimbledon championships in July. (Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images)

Happy Friday, friends! This week there were a lot of heartwarming and exciting things that took place that I want to offer you in this weekly notebook of joy. 

First of all, Roger Federer retired and what beautiful tributes received from friends and competitors alike. Rafa Nadal was arguably his biggest rival and Nadal shared a wonderful salutation to his friend online. 

And it was only a blink before when another great, Serena Williams hung up her own racquet. Her post to her dear friend and one-time doubles partner Federer. The photo on her Instagram account is one of gratitude and friendship. In her post, Williams said that Federer inspired her. They both showed the world what fierce competitive spirit, kindness and friendship go hand in hand. For Federer to be celebrated and loved by his peers and his competitors is undoubtedly a testament to the glory and impact of his career.

Speaking of glorious contributions, Michael Sheen wowed me this week with a roaring soliloquy dedicated to the Welsh football team. Wales is going to the men's World Cup in Qatar (they have not had a World Cup appearance since 1958) and what a tribute he gave them. In fact, the coaching staff uses that speech to invigorate and motivate the Welsh squad. Have a listen and let his performance take you away. 

Last week I mentioned that TIFF had begun. What a week of incredible film and artistry and yes, celebs floating around Toronto. I had the distinct pleasure of watching Black Ice a film by Hubert Davis.

I was moved and so impressed with not only his beautiful vision for a film that tackles systemic racism in Canada's beloved sport but his majestic storytelling. The cinematography was beautiful and the merging of history from Africville (Halifax) with heartwrenching stories of players including Akim Aliu, Wayne Simmonds, Saroya Tinker, Blake Bolden, Sarah Nurse, Matt Demba and even junior player Mark Connors are things that we know and these players have recounted and shared. But the intimacy of their narratives woven into a larger story about systemic racism and how there are not isolated incidents is incredible. 

The histories of the Coloured Hockey League from Nova Scotia back in the late 1800s. And yes, Black players played and thrived in their own leagues because they were not permitted to play with white players. Davis has masterfully threaded all these pieces together and Black Ice is a film that should be watched, taught and understood at every level of hockey and by the fans.   

Black Ice director Hubert Davis, left, with Shireen Ahmed. (Photo by Mark Strong)

I was lucky to meet him after a powerful Q&A at the screening at TIFF Lightbox. He is an extremely humble and kind person. One of his gifts in directing is offering joy to viewers and to Black communities as he honours that connection to hockey. 

I leave you with a harrowing piece of music from Black Union with Maestro Fresh Wes called Africville.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shireen Ahmed

Senior Contributor

Shireen Ahmed is a multi-platform sports journalist, a TEDx speaker, mentor, and an award-winning sports activist who focuses on the intersections of racism and misogyny in sports. She is an industry expert on Muslim women in sports, and her academic research and contributions have been widely published. She is co-creator and co-host of the “Burn It All Down” feminist sports podcast team. In addition to being a seasoned investigative reporter, her commentary is featured by media outlets in Canada, the USA, Europe and Australia. She holds an MA in Media Production from Toronto Metropolitan University where she now teaches Sports Journalism and Sports Media. You can find Shireen tweeting or drinking coffee, or tweeting about drinking coffee. She lives with her four children and her cat.

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