Roger Federer retires from professional tennis aged 41 after a series of knee surgeries, ending a career in which he won 20 Grand Slam titles, finished five seasons No. 1 and helped create a golden era of men’s tennis with rivals to accomplish Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
“As many of you know, the last three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries,” Federer said in a post on his social media accounts on Thursday. “I worked hard to become fully competitive again. But I also know my body’s capacities and limitations, and its message to me has been clear lately.
“I’m 41 years old. I’ve played more than 1500 matches in 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever dreamed and now I have to realize when it’s time to end my competitive career. “
To my tennis family and beyond,
– Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 15, 2022
Federer’s 20 Grand Slam titles rank third all-time among men’s players, behind only contemporaries Nadal (22) and Djokovic (21).
Federer said he intends to continue playing tennis “but just not in Grand Slams or on the Tour”. He had not played a competitive game since reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon 2021 and announced in mid-August that he had undergone further knee surgery.
But he had appeared at a Center Court centenary event at the All England Club in July and said he hoped to play there “one more time”. He had also announced that he would be returning to tournament action at the Swiss Indoors in October.
“It’s a bittersweet decision because I will miss everything the Tour has given me,” said Federer. “But at the same time there is so much to celebrate. I consider myself one of the happiest people in the world. I was given a special talent to play tennis and have done it at a level I could never have imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible.”
Nadal expressed a similar sentiment, tweet“I wish that day had never come,” but also expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to “share all these years with you and experience so many amazing moments on and off the pitch.”
Dear Roger, my friend and rival.
I wish that day had never come. It’s a sad day for me personally and for sport around the world.
It has been a pleasure but also an honor and a privilege to share all these years with you and experience so many amazing moments on and off the pitch 👇🏻
– Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) September 15, 2022
We will have many more moments together in the future, there is still a lot to do together, we know that.
For now, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you the best of luck with your wife Mirka, your children, your family and enjoy what lies ahead. See you in London @LaverCup
– Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) September 15, 2022
Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and others Andy Murray will play together for the first time when they compete as part of Team Europe at the Laver Cup in London on September 23-25. Named after the great Australian Rod Laver, the three-day team event, run by Federer’s management company, pits six of Europe’s best players against six from the rest of the world.
Tony Godsick, Federer’s agent since 2005, told The Associated Press that Federer struggled in his recent recovery from knee surgery.
“A few weeks after Wimbledon he informed me that the knee was not responding as it should and that he was considering finding a way to end his career,” Godsick said in a telephone interview. “Years ago I suggested to him that he should stop. Not many tennis players at his level push into their 40s. But he was always interested in challenging himself. And at the end of the day, after over 1,500 games, the tires finally wore out. And he still has work to do in his next phase.
Federer walks away with 103 tour-level titles to his impressive résumé and 1,251 singles-match wins, both second only to Jimmy Connors in the Open era that began in 1968. Federer’s records include being the oldest No. 1 in ATP rankings history – returning to the top at 36 in 2018 – and most consecutive weeks there; His overall weekly mark was surpassed by Djokovic.
The dominance Federer has shown at the peak of his powers is unrivaled, including reaching 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals and winning eight from 2005 to 2007, a streak that also extends to 18 of 19 major finals extended to 2010.
In a sport where changes in surface and other conditions can excite even the best players with a performance here or there in the second week of a slam, Federer has compiled streaks of 36 consecutive quarterfinals and 23 consecutive semifinals from 2004 to 2013.
“Roger Federer is the champion of a champion. He has the most complete game of his generation and won the hearts of sports fans around the world with amazing speed on the court and a strong tennis mind,” said Hall of Famer Billie Jean King. “He had a historic career with memories that will live on forever.”
When Federer won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, Pete Sampras held the men’s title record; The American had won his 14th US Open the year before in what turned out to be the last match of his career.
Federer would go well beyond that and end up winning 20, winning eight championships at Wimbledon, six at the Australian Open, five at the US Open and one at the French Open. His 2009 trophy at Roland Garros allowed Federer to complete a career grand slam.
His serve, forehand, footwork and attacking style will all be remembered. Also memorable were his matches against younger rivals Nadal (36) and Djokovic (35), both of whom equaled and then surpassed Federer’s Slam totals and are still winning titles in the sport’s four biggest tournaments.
“I was lucky enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget,” said Federer in Thursday’s announcement. Addressing his “competitors on the court”, though not by name, he wrote: “We pushed each other and together we took tennis to a new level.”
Federer and his wife Mirka – also a tennis player; They met when they were athletes at an Olympics – they have two sets of twins.
Serena Williams, who announced her retirement from tennis ahead of the US Open, sent a tribute to Federer of her own on Thursday.
“I wanted to find the perfect way to say this as you have so eloquently put this game to rest – done perfectly, just like your career.” Williams said in a post on Instagram.
“I’ve always looked up to you and admired you. Our paths were always so similar, so similar. You have inspired untold millions and millions of people – including me – and we will never forget you. I salute you and look forward to all you do in the future.
“Welcome to the retirement club. And thank you for being you @rogerfederer.”