The hero of all Switzerland and Juliette the cow

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The Independent Online

Over the past 12 months, Roger Federer seems to have garnered almost as many headlines for the cow he received as a congratulatory present from his countrymen as he did for actually winning Wimbledon itself.

It is hardly surprising. Anyone who witnessed the 800kg milking cow - Juliette - walk out into the Roy Emerson Arena (the centre court at the Suisse Open in Gstaad) to greet the new Wimbledon champion just two days after his triumph, will probably never forget it.

"I thought I would just walk on court, salute the crowd, maybe say a few words, and then walk off again," said Federer, who had made his professional debut as a wild card at the same tournament six years earlier. "Then suddenly, out of nowhere, along she came!"

Since then, the Swiss star has barely attended a post-match press conference without someone asking him about his cow, whether or not he had brought her with him, and was she planning to start a family any time soon. "Look, the guy had just won Wimbledon, so whatever we gave him would seem silly, so we gave him a cow," said the Gstaad vice-tournament director, Claudio Hermenjat, clearly amused at the furore their choice of gift had provoked.

Not that Federer was complaining. "It's nice to have a cow," he said. "It's such a quiet animal, and so big."

Useful too. Juliette now lives in the hills above Gstaad, and Federer receives cheese from her on a regular basis. He has milked her twice, she has already given birth to a calf, and her public appeal continues to grow.

"Juliette is huge - everyone wants a piece of her now," confirms Hermenjat. "We have these pictures on our website that are free-of-charge for the media, and photographers have downloaded them, claimed that they own them, and sold them."

"I went on the internet and searched Juliette and Federer one day, and there was an article in an Indian newspaper about them. Roy Emerson was even getting calls from Australia with people asking what a cow was doing on his court."

So, what will they give him if he successfully defends his title? Hermenjat insists they have no plans, but Federer is already preparing himself. "They will think of something," he said with a grin.