the girl with the roger federer tattoo


Just in time for Wimbledon, TSF discovered a big-time Roger Federer fan who wears her pride on her sleeve… er, to be exact, the underside of her wrist. Always.

Michele Drohan is avid tennis player who lives in Manhattan and works for a video and TV product company called Sling Media. She also happens to have the RF logo tattooed onto her wrist, something few fans can claim. We bring you the story of Michele, her tattoo, and the way it all came about.

TSF: When did you get the tattoo?
Michele Doran: I got the tattoo the same day Fed (finally!) won the French Open, in 2009.

TSF: Good timing. Tell me about the thought process of why you got it.
MD: The fact that Fed had completed the career grand slam and tied Sampras‘s record was a special moment for me as a long-time, die-hard fan. My best friend, Caroline, jokingly bet me that if he won I should get a tattoo. And it just made sense at the time. It might sound strange to the non-fan, but I did it, in part, because I felt I wanted to honor his accomplishments, like I owed him. He’s brought me so much joy, and a fair share of anxiety, watching him play and I truly believe there will never be another like him.

TSF: Fair enough. But what about those people in your life who have brought you joy (and anxiety) personally? Weren’t there a few that were completely against it?
MD: Nobody influential was against it, but I have friends who bristle at it, mostly because they’re jealous, frustrated Roddick fans. (Insert sly laughter here.) Again, Caroline my best friend — and fellow fanatic — was totally for it and with me when I got it. She got a tattoo, too, but nothing tennis related. It was definitely a celebratory day. Maybe we were a little drunk. But I don’t regret it at all.

TSF: More power to you (and Caroline)! Do you have other tattoos?
MD: I have three other tattoos. A small rose on my back, a snake on my arm (which I tried to get removed unsuccessfully — long story) and another flower on my ankle. So getting the RF tattoo wasn’t a stretch per se. Once you have one tattoo, getting another isn’t a huge deal.

TSF: OK, got it. I haven’t delved into that yet. But I was thinking of a vintage Mary Pierce pony tail down my neck and back. No? For you, why the RF? Do you have a big obsession with Roger? Or just love the design? Or both?
MD: As for the RF, it was totally and completely for Federer. Yes, some would say I’m obsessed. I guess I’m just lucky he has such a fabulous logo.

More from Michele and shots of her RF ink after the cut.

TSF: Branding is important, I guess. Tell me about an instance when someone recognized your tattoo. Do people stop you on the street?
MD: Usually only tennis fans recognize the tattoo and most of the time, the reaction is: ‘Is that real?’ When they find out it is, they either say, ‘Wow, that’s great’ or look at me like I’m a little crazy. Which perhaps I am.

TSF: Crazy schmazy. This is crazy. Tell me about an instance when someone had no idea what your tattoo was and asked about it.
MD: The funniest story is when my mom saw the tattoo for the first time. While she’s a huge tennis fan, she didn’t recognize it, so I told her it was the Swiss symbol for genius. And she believed me.

TSF: That is genius. Have you ever seen Federer play?
MD: I’ve been lucky enough to see Federer play lots of times. I went to the French Open final in 2007 and have been to the quarters, semis and finals of the U.S. Open for the last four years. Needless to say, last year’s Open was heartbreaking. My dream is to go to the Wimbledon final and see him play, so I better hurry up and find a way to afford it!

TSF: Oh yeah! You should do a Wimbledon-Olympics trip in 2012! The Genius is gunning for that to be a big-time few weeks. If you could get any other tennis-related tattoo, what would it be?
MD: I probably won’t get another tennis-related tattoo, although my friends and I joke about doing something for Safin because while Federer is the GOAT, Marat is the HOAT (hottest of all time).

TSF: But what about the BeMOAT (Best Mother of all Time… Mirka). Wouldn’t she throw you down if she ever found out?!
MD: I’m asked repeatedly if I would show it to Federer if I ever met him. And I don’t know if I would. Either he’d be flattered or request a restraining order!

How ballsy: Not only is Michele cool enough to take the pain for some RF inkage, but the Massachusetts native also plays drums in a band called Hot Doughnuts, a largely self-taught trio whose influences include Tom Petty, Guns N’ Roses and Patti Smith.

(all photos by caroline potter.)


  1. The Fan Child says

    Great journalism here – hilarious and cool story that makes me feel less dumb about having a baltimore oriole tattoo!

  2. Paula says

    Michelle sounds like she could be my BFF. I love tennis, LOVE Roger and think the logo is the most clever i have ever seen. But most of all, thought Marat was the hottest on the tour for a long time.

    Love the stories.


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