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Gates and Federer
Bill Gates, right, and tennis star Roger Federer at Seattle’s Key Arena on April 30. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Bill Gates admits that he’s normally pretty composed in front of a large group of people, but playing tennis in front of 16,000 did trigger some nerves in the Microsoft co-founder.

In a new post on his Gates Notes blog, the billionaire philanthropist provided a recap of the Saturday tennis match in which he teamed with legendary player Roger Federer to take on American pro John Isner and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. The Match for Africa charity event at Seattle’s Key Arena raised $2 million for Federer’s foundation.

Gates wrote that accepting the invitation from Federer was a “no-brainer” and the chance to play with the 18-time Grand Slam champion was a “dream come true.”

“I just had to make sure I didn’t screw it up,” Gates said.

Gates said he plays a lot of tennis, but the thought of disappointing such a large crowd with too many double faults or serves returned into the net drove him to put in a lot of practice the week before the match.

At the arena, the atmosphere was intense. The crowd was buzzing. Mike played an amazing version of the National Anthem on guitar. When the emcee introduced me, I jogged out and nearly got singed by a big flamethrower.

Being the perfectionist that he is, it’s clear that Gates took his effort very seriously and paid close attention to the performance of others throughout. He wrote about his strategy for dealing with shots from Isner, a commanding presence on the court at 6 feet, 10 inches tall.

And in the end, Gates noted a couple important goals had been met: Federer’s organization raised money to do important work, and Gates checked an item off his bucket list.

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