Next week at the Laver Cup which is being staged at the O2 in London, Roger Federer, one of the greatest players in tennis, will play his last match as a professional having just announced that he will be retiring once the event is over.
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 Roger Federer
The competition – his brainchild which is similar to golf’s Ryder Cup – seems an appropriate place for the Wimbledon champion to hang up his racket if he can’t actually do it at the All England Club where he won the title eight times, a record in male terms.
Holder of 20 grand slam titles, Federer has been struggling to return to the court in a competitive capacity for some time having had three knee surgeries in the last few years, so his announcement doesn’t come as a surprise. In addition to those grand slam wins, he has also collected 103 singles titles and spent 310 weeks at the top of the world rankings.
That announcement via a letter posted on social media, read:
“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 1500 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 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.
Federer had promised fans a full return following his last operation, but it became increasingly clear that his rehabilitation was not going as well as he had hoped.
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.”
The ATP Tour issued its own tribute to Federer, simply saying: “You changed the game, #RForever. ”
ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi added: “Roger’s impact on tennis, and the legacy he’s built, are impossible to overstate. Over 24 years as a professional, Roger brought millions of adoring fans into the game.
“He spearheaded an incredible new era of growth and elevated the popularity of our sport. Few athletes have transcended their field in such a manner.
“Roger made us all feel proud and fortunate to be part of the same sport.”
Over the coming weeks many will play tribute to the most graceful male player the sport has seen. A man who has become a quintessential gentleman having started his career as a racket-throwing teenager!
His style, and his trademark one-handed backhand, is a joy to watch and while he may not end his career with the most grand slam titles, he will be always considered one of the Greatest Of All Time.