Roger Federer retired from professional tennis at the age of 41 after a series of knee surgeries, ending a career in which he won 20 Grand Slam titles, finished five seasons in first place and helped create a golden era for men’s tennis with rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Federer posted what he called a ‘bittersweet decision’ via social media on Thursday, less than a week after 23-times major champion Serena Williams fought what was expected in the last game of her career.
The exits of two of the greatest athletes in the history of their sport combined represent a major page turn.
“As many of you know, the past three years have faced me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries. I’ve worked hard to get back to the full competitive level,” Federer wrote on Twitter. But I also know my body’s capabilities and limitations, and its message to me lately has been clear. ”
Federer has not featured since Wimbledon in July 2021, and in that sense, his news is not surprising.
But he appeared at an event marking the 100th anniversary of the Central Court at the All England Club last July and said he hoped to return to playing there ‘again’.
He also said he will return to tournament matches in his home country of Switzerland at home in October.
In an announcement on Thursday, Federer said his farewell party will be the Laver Cup in London next week. This is a group event run by his management company.
Federer is married and he and his wife Mirka – also a tennis player; They met as athletes at the Olympic Games – they have two sets of twins.
He left with a total of 103 Tour-level titles in his big resume and 1,251 singles match wins, both second only to Jimmy Connors in the Open Era, which began in 1968. Federer’s records include being the oldest in the ATP rankings history – he came back to the top at 36 in 2018 – and the most consecutive weeks there (Djokovic lost his overall weeks mark).
When Federer won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, Pete Sampras was the men’s record holder to win his 14th US Open title the previous year in what turned out to be the last match of an American player’s career.
Federer went on to get past that, and ended up with 20 wins, winning eight Wimbledon titles, six at the Australian Open, five at the US Open, and one at the French Open. His 2009 title at Roland Garros allowed Federer to complete his Grand Slam career.
His shots, forehands, footwork and attacking style will all be remembered. Also memorable are his matches against younger competitors, Nadal, 36, and Djokovic, 35, who tied and then outperformed Federer’s Slam aggregate and continue to claim titles in the sport’s four biggest slams.
Nadal now leads the count with 22, one ahead of Djokovic.
“I was fortunate enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget,” Federer said in Thursday’s announcement.
Addressing his ‘rivals on the court’ – albeit not by name – he wrote: ‘We pushed each other, and together we took tennis to new levels. ”
Federer’s last match came on July 7, 2021, when he lost on center court in the Wimbledon quarter-finals to Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-0.
Soon after, Federer underwent surgery to repair damage to the meniscus and cartilage in his right knee – his third operation on that knee in a year and a half.
“Tennis has treated me more generously than I could have ever dreamed of, and now I must realize the time is right to end my competitive career,” Federer said on Thursday.