Roger Federer, the racquet-throwing Swiss teenager who has matured into one of the world’s most intelligent athletes and was part of a generation that has dominated tennis for two decades, announced Thursday that he is retiring from competition.
“I am 41 years old; I have played more than 1,500 matches in 24 years,” Federer said in an audio clip posted on social media. “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 leaves the game with one of the greatest competitive records in its history: 103 singles titles, 20 Grand Slam singles titles, 310 first-place weeks, and six record wins in the season-ending finals. Perhaps most strikingly, he was never forced to stop playing a match he had started due to injury.
Williams, who turns 41 later this month, said she was “evolving” away from the competition but left the door a bit ajar for a comeback after her farewell at this year’s US Open. Federer, who has struggled through years of injuries, has been more specific about his departure, which means the big three in men’s tennis – including Federer’s longtime rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – will soon drop to two.
But not before a last resort brings them together, and their bodies desire old age.
Federer said he will make his last competitive appearance next week in London at the Laver Cup, an annual team event he helped create as part of his legacy to the game he once ruled alone before the emergence of Nadal and Djokovic to change the balance of power. .
He’s had some of his greatest victories against them, but he’s also had many of his most shrinking setbacks. Part of Federer’s enduring appeal came from his weakness: the big matches he lost and the tears he often shed in victory and defeat.
“It’s a sad day for me personally and for the sport around the world,” Nadal said on Twitter, referring to Federer as a friend and competitor and saying it was a great honor to share “so many great moments on and off the field.”
In the Laver Cup, inspired by golf’s Ryder Cup, Federer is set to play for Team Europe with Nadal, Djokovic and British star Andy Murray, one of the key players of this extraordinary era.
Nobody covers the globe with Federer’s blessing.
It didn’t move as much as the flow. He was comfortable pouncing on the volley or stretching over his head as he was patrolling the base line and jumping to his signature kick, the forehand kick from the inside out, his gaze remaining on the focal point after the ball went as if to emphasize it, thanks to his speed and sense of court He had a little more time to work his magic than his peers.
“He made the match look so easy,” said Paul Anacon, one of his former coaches. “I have always felt that he was Picasso with a tennis racket. What I will miss most is the beauty he brought to the game.”
Federer struggled to tame his nerves and perfect streak in his youth, frustrating a string of coaches (and his parents, Robert and Lynette) when he shouted angrily and lost some matches he should have won. Over time, he learned to control his frustration and became, with rare exceptions, a model of calm and composure under pressure.
It was a fantastic turnaround and gave Federer the breadth and appeal of his bounce back and his advisors.
So far, he’s received more than $130 million in prize money, but that number pales in comparison to his out-of-court income. Thanks to a large group of sponsors, he became the first active tennis player to earn over $1 billion. Even in the past three seasons, when he played little or no, he remained the highest-earning tennis player and was the highest-earning athlete in 2020, according to Forbes.
Federer indicated that he will continue to play, most likely in exhibitions. But the sport has already taken a long look at life without Federer due to knee problems.
He missed over a year during the 2020 and 2021 seasons and hasn’t played in the past 14 months.
“I’ve worked hard to get back to a fully competitive level, but I also know my body’s capabilities and limitations, and her message to me lately has been clear,” Federer said.
The son of a Swiss father and a South African mother, Federer was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1981. He spent his early years playing various sports and was considered a particularly promising footballer. He chose tennis after starting work with Australian player Peter Carter, who began teaching to increase his income as an aspiring player on the tours level.
Carter and Federer were associated with helping the youngster develop his elegant playing style, including airborne forehands and powerful, wide backhands.
At the age of 14, Federer moved from Basel to Ecublens, Switzerland to ride and train at the National Training Center in the French-speaking part of the country.
Federer was ridiculed by his peers for his poor French and struggled in school, but he considered the experience – and the challenge – the key to his eventual success.
His first professional achievement at Wimbledon came in 2001, when he defeated seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras in the fourth round. However, Federer struggled with his nerves and tactics and had to deal with the tragedy of Carter’s death in a car accident in South Africa in 2002 on his honeymoon: a trip he took at the behest of the Federer family.
Federer was devastated but channeled his grief into trying to be the hero Carter thought he could be.
Those who know Federer well have seen a big change in him. The following year, in 2003, he won his first singles title at Wimbledon, displaying all the tools on his Swiss military knife for the match: pleasing the crowd and dismantling the opponent. He defeated Andy Roddick, another rising talent from the United States, in the semi-finals and Mark Philippoussis of Australia in the final.
Although Roddick went on to win the US Open in September and briefly ascended to the world number one, this would be an era for Federer. He won the Australian Open to start the 2004 season, took first place in the rankings and achieved a sprint.
He won three Grand Slam singles titles every year in 2004, 2006 and 2007. His only stumbling block was the French Open, with Nadal, who was nearly five years younger than him and practically untouchable on the red clay of Roland Garros, emerged .
Ultimately, Nadal hit Federer on the grass as well, defeating him in the 2008 Wimbledon final, widely regarded as one of the greatest matches in tennis history, and in the 2009 Australian Open final, where he left Federer in tears at the awards ceremony.
Federer won his first and only French championship in 2009 after Nadal beat Robin Soderling in the fourth round and regained the Wimbledon title four weeks later by defeating Roddick. The victory allowed Federer to break Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slam singles titles.
Federer’s two daughters were born shortly after the Wimbledon win, but Federer and his wife Mirka soon returned to the ring and later traveled with their twin sons.
Federer called Mirka “my rock” and her support – and logistical charm – combined with the innovative work of fitness coach Pier Paganini, were fundamental to Federer’s longevity.
“She pushed me ahead of the finals, watched countless matches even when I was eight months pregnant, and endured my goofy sides on the road with my team for over 20 years,” Federer said in announcing his retirement.
He began asking questions about retirement after winning the 2009 French Open, but has continued to play for more than a decade, often with great success.
Mirka encouraged Federer to come back in 2017 after his first mandatory match break.
In January 2016, while running a bathroom for his daughters, he felt a click in his left knee and soon underwent surgery. He returned in the spring, but after losing at Wimbledon, he ended his season and spent six months strengthening the knee.
He returned in 2017 for what turned out to be a renaissance. He won the Australian Open, defeating Nadal in the final, then won Wimbledon for the eighth time and rode that wave to another title at the 2018 Australian Open. The following month, he became the biggest No. 1 in ATP rankings history at 36.
The last big win set the men’s record of 20 singles titles at the Grand Slam, but Federer did not hold it for long. However, he had another excellent opportunity to add to his group: by two match points on his serve against Djokovic in the fifth set of the 2019 Wimbledon final.
But Djokovic won instead, and with Federer nearing retirement, Nadal holds the record with 22 Grand Slam singles titles, directly behind Djokovic with 21.
Federer will remain third on that list, possibly for many years to come. He also has a losing record against both men: 16-24 vs. Nadal and 23-27 vs. Djokovic.
However, Federer has certainly been a long way off on top and touched tennis fans around the world for over 20 years with his kicks and shots on and off the court.
And while he made it clear that his days in tour-level tennis would be over, he hinted that he intends to continue playing a role in the sport.
He said, “Finally, for the game of tennis, I love you and will never leave you.”
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