Swiss tennis great Roger Federer has announced his retirement from the sport, saying next week's Laver Cup will be his final ATP tournament; "Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career"
Friday 16 September 2022 09:44, UK
Roger Federer will retire from tennis after next week's Laver Cup, aged 41.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion has been struggling with a knee problem for the last three years and has decided now is the time to step away.
Federer will play in next week's Laver Cup in London, the Ryder Cup-style competition that was his brainchild, but will then leave the professional game.
Federer made the announcement via a letter posted on social media, which began: "To my tennis family and beyond. Of all the gifts that tennis has given me over the years, the greatest, without a doubt, has been the people I've met along the way: my friends, my competitors, and most of all the fans who give the sport its life. Today, I want to share some news with all of you.
"As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries. I've worked hard to return to full competitive form.
"But I also know my body's capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear. I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career.
"The Laver Cup next week in London will be my final ATP event. I will play more tennis in the future, of course, but just not in Grand Slams or on the tour."
Federer's Grand Slam record has now been surpassed by both his great rival Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but many people, especially the legions of fans he brought to the sport, will still consider him the greatest of all time.
Federer continued: "This is a bittersweet decision, because I will miss everything the tour has given me. But, at the same time, there is so much to celebrate.
"I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on Earth. I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level that I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible."
Federer has not played a competitive match since losing to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last summer.
He subsequently announced he needed more surgery on his knee having previously undergone two operations in 2020 that kept him out for more than a year.
The Swiss had targeted a full return following the last operation but it became increasingly clear his rehabilitation was not going as well as he had hoped.
Federer, who won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, thanked his family for their support, writing: "I would like to especially thank my amazing wife Mirka, who has lived through every minute with me.
"She has warmed me up before finals, watched countless matches even while over eight months pregnant, and has endured my goofy side on the road with my team for over 20 years.
"I also want to thank my four wonderful children for supporting me, always eager to explore new places and creating wonderful memories along the way. Seeing my family cheering me on from the stands is a feeling I will cherish forever."
Federer's retirement, coming less than a fortnight after Serena Williams was given an emotional send-off at the US Open, is another indication that this momentous era in tennis is drawing to a close.
"I was lucky enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget," said Federer.
"We battled fairly, with passion and intensity, and I always tried my best to respect the history of the game. I feel extremely grateful. We pushed each other, and together we took tennis to new levels.
"Above all, I must offer a special thank you to my unbelievable fans. You will never know how much strength and belief you have given me.
"The inspiring feeling of walking into full stadiums and arenas has been one of the huge thrills in my life. Without you, those successes would have felt lonely, rather than filled with joy and energy.
"The last 24 years on tour have been an incredible adventure. While it sometimes feels like it went by in 24 hours, it has also been so deep and magical that it seems as if I've already lived a full lifetime."
Finally, to the game of tennis: I love you and will never leave you.
Concluding his letter, Federer wrote: "When my love of tennis started, I was a ball kid in my hometown of Basel. I used to watch the players with a sense of wonder.
"They were like giants to me and I began to dream. My dreams led me to work harder and I started to believe in myself. Some success brought me confidence and I was on my way to the most amazing journey that has led to this day.
"So, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart, to everyone around the world who has helped make the dreams of a young Swiss ball kid come true. Finally, to the game of tennis: I love you and will never leave you."
Rafael Nadal tweeted: "Dear Roger,my friend and rival. I wish this day would have never come. It's a sad day for me personally and for sports around the world. It's been a pleasure but also an honor and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court.
"We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still lots of things to do together, we know that. For now, I truly wish you all the happiness with your wife, Mirka, your kids, your family and enjoy what's ahead of you. I'll see you in London @LaverCup."
Serena Williams posted on Instagram: "I wanted to find the perfect way to say this, as you so eloquently put this game to rest - perfectly done, just like your career.
"I have always looked up to you and admired you. Our paths were always so similar, so much the same. You inspired countless millions and millions of people - including me - and we will never forget.
"I applaud you and look forward to all that you do in the future. Welcome to the retirement club. And thank you for being you."
Wimbledon tweeted: "Roger, Where do we begin? It's been a privilege to witness your journey and see you become a champion in every sense of the word. We will so miss the sight of you gracing our courts, but all we can say for now is thank you, for the memories and joy you have given to so many."
Tennis pioneer Billie jean King tweeted: "Roger Federer is a champion's champion. He has the most complete game of his generation & captured the hearts of sports fans around the world with an amazing quickness on the court & a powerful tennis mind. He has had a historic career w/memories that will live on and on. Congratulations Roger Federer. We wish you the very best as your journey continues."
Judy Murray tweeted: "The end of a magnificent era......"
Juan Martin del Potro tweeted: "I LOVE YOU, Roger. Thank you for everything you've done in tennis and with myself. Tennis world will never be the same without you."
Andy Roddick, who lost three times to Federer in the Wimbledon final, tweeted: "Cheers Roger. Thanks for the shared memories my friend. It was an honor to share time/experiences on the most hallowed grounds in our sport. Don't be a stranger. Also, seems like a good time to start training for Wimby. (Obviously kidding)"
James Blake tweeted: "Roger, there was and never will be anyone like you. You crushed me on the court, but were so nice and genuine that I couldn't hate you for it. You made the game better on and off the court and you will be missed. Good luck, you have earned all the success and joy in the world."
Martina Navratilova added: "What a heartfelt message, full of love, life, hope, passion and gratitude. Which is exactly how Roger played the game we love so much. Thank you thank you thank you, for all the magic!!!"
The way that he played the game with the grace and the way that he handled everything outside of the sport as well - amazing!
Annabel Croft believes Federer will be remembered as an all-time great, telling Sky Sports: "Every time he stepped on a tennis court he was coping with enormous pressure and expectation and yet he seemed to lap it up.
"But he also transcended sport because he took tennis from the back pages to the front pages wherever he was in the world.
"He had this unbelievable following and it didn't seem to matter who he was up against or whichever country they came from, people always wanted him to win. For many of his opponents, it would be tough for them because I remember him playing Andy Murray at London's O2 and the majority of the people were cheering for him which was quite extraordinary.
"He will be remembered as one of the greatest of all time despite being overtaken by one of his greatest rivals in Rafael Nadal, while Novak Djokovic has also overtaken him. But for me, I think the way that he played the game with grace and the way that he handled everything outside of the sport as well - amazing!"