Roger Federer, the 20-time major champion whose relentless talent made tennis a sport retired on Thursday.
“I am 41, and I’ve played over 1,500 matches over the course of 24 years and tennis has shown me better than I ever thought of,” Federer said in a post on the social networks, “and now I must determine when it’s time to put an end to my tennis career.”
For the majority of his period, Federer seemed as if the future would see him as the greatest male athlete of all time for Grand Slam titles. He was able to surpass one of his heroes Pete Sampras with his 15th major title in 2009 and continued to top his list of titles until the year 2022. However, by that time his career was unavoidably tied to the other players of tennis’s Big Three, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
While Federer was plagued by injuries in recent times, Nadal overtook his tally during the Australian Open and now sits at the top of the list having won 22 titles He also won Roland-Garros in the same year. Djokovic has also surpassed Federer with 21 titles after his victory this year’s Wimbledon.
Federer who is set to say goodbye during his final Laver Cup exhibition in London next week was undergoing knee surgery in the hopes of returning to the professional circuit for one last shot. However, as his recovery took longer and tennis continued to speed up The Swiss master shotmaker decided that it was time to end his career. The man who was once untouchable has now retired at third on the list of male major championships.
The scorecard that he has compiled is awe-inspiring 8 Wimbledon championships and six Australian Opens. five U.S. Opens and Roland Garros. He won the title of 103 on the tour, including an Olympic Doubles Gold medal in Switzerland and at one point, he played two37 consecutive weeks as the world’s No. one player around the globe. He earned $130,594,339 of cash prize money as per the ATP Tour.
Federer’s decision to withdraw from tennis was only the second time that Federer has quit the game of an all-time great in the month of September by itself. In the last month, the 23-time major champion Serena Williams, who shared the court with Federer throughout his career, also stepped into retirement after her loss to Federer in round three in the U.S. Open.
“He’s only a summary of class and greatness. He’s incredible and has really transformed the game” Williams said of Federer last year. “You observe players similar to him, playing as he did, and using his moves. He is a genius.”
In the realm of Grand Slam tournaments, Federer was the definition of the ever-present. From 2000 until his serious knee injury that occurred in the year 2016 Federer played an uninterrupted run with 65 straight major championships winning 17 majors. The subsequent recovery and his return to the world’s No. 1 in the year 2018, at the age of 36 also ranks among his top achievements.
In that period his brilliance on the court with a clean and crisp appearance, as well as ability to communicate in three languages helped him become a magnet at sponsors. This ranged from watches as well as chocolate-based endorsements which go with being a Swiss star and his contract to Nike that ended in the year 2018 and was replaced with an 10-year contract worth nine figures that was signed with Uniqlo. The Japanese company would like to partner with him for the remainder of his playing days , and long into retirement, when it came to that.
Federer’s long-term success would have been even more remarkable had he not been a player in the golden age of tennis of thirtysomethings. Djokovic and Nadal continue to win major titles past the age of 35. Federer himself was victorious in his final Slam at the age of 37 by defeating Marin Cilic at the 2018 Australian Open. In the moment, it was his third victory in five major tournaments.
“Winning it is a wish that comes to life,” he said then in tears. “I am so grateful to you Thank you.”
But the cracks began to be apparent.
After making it to the semi-finals of Wimbledon in the year 2019 in which he fell against Djokovic, Federer used the hiatus caused by the pandemic to heal his injured knee twice. Then, he was back at his All England Club in 2021 and was unable to make it into the quarterfinals. In the summer of 2021 followed, he would make the final big wager of his life. Federer was again undergoing knee surgery.
“I would like to be healthier. I want to run around later and I’d like for myself to have a glimpse of hope to be able to go back to the road in some form or fashion,” he said when he explained the process. “I am realistic, don’t get me wrong. I am aware of the difficulties it poses at this point in time to have another surgery, and even try it.”
Federer’s seemingly effortless tennis game–which melded balletic movements with a strong serve, and a routine feat of geometrical precision–produced the feeling that his age could be more gentle on him than the majority of. However, if his tennis seemed eternal, his knees often weren’t.
“I also understand my body’s limits and capacities and the message it has sent to me in recent times is clear,” Federer said on Thursday.