The retirement of tennis great Roger Federer marks the end of an era, where the achievements and records set by him inspired the future generation, amazed his own generation and drew praise from the one that was before him.
The Swiss legend announced his retirement on 15 September, saying in a statement that the Laver Cup 2022 to be held from 23-25 September in London will be his last.
“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,” the 41-year-old wrote in his statement, which he also shared on Twitter as an audio. “But I also know my body’s capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear.”
Federer has had a series of knee operations in the past and has not competed anywhere since Wimbledon in 2021, where he lost to Hubert Hurkacz in three sets in the quarterfinal match on 7 July.
In his statement, Federer thanked his family, including wife Mirka, former coaches, his team and his fans.
A winner of 20 Grand Slams, Federer also thanked his competitors over the 24 years of his career without naming anyone.
“I would also like to thank my competitors on the court. I was lucky enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget. 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,” he said.
To my tennis family and beyond,
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 15, 2022
It is not known what plans Federer has for the future, but outside of tennis he has been headlining campaigns for several high-end brands the likes of which include Moët & Chandon and Mercedes.
Tributes pour in from top players
Federer’s retirement comes less than two weeks after 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams played possibly the last match of her legendary career.
In a post on Instagram, Williams said that Federer inspired her.
“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,” she wrote.
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Together with Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, Federer formed the trinity that created the golden age of men’s singles tennis starting from the early years of 2000s. Both Nadal and Djokovic, who have won 22 and 21 Grand Slams, respectively, have been Federer’s biggest competitors.
Nadal and Federer, in particular, are known to be great friends off the court as they were great rivals on it. In his moving tribute to Federer, Nadal said that it was personally a sad day for him.
“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,” the 36-year-old wrote on Twitter.
“We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still lots of things to do together, we know that,” he added.
Wishing Federer “all the happiness” with family, Nadal signed off saying they’ll meet at the Laver Cup.
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
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) September 15, 2022
Among others from the tennis world who reacted were US Open 2022 champions Iga Świątek and Carlos Alcaraz.
I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done and everything you are for our sport. It’s been a privilege to witness your career. I wish you all the best. https://t.co/gJSV5PZO2Y
— Iga Świątek (@iga_swiatek) September 15, 2022
Roger has been one of my idols and a source of inspiration! Thank you for everything you have done for our sport! ❤️ I still want to play with you! Wish you all the luck in the world for what comes next! @rogerfederer pic.twitter.com/k4xjyN3AAB
— Carlos Alcaraz (@carlosalcaraz) September 15, 2022
Tennis icon Billie Jean King hailed Federer as “a champion’s champion.”
(1/2) 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. pic.twitter.com/zxGq4izh1v
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 15, 2022
A look at Roger Federer’s achievements and records through his tennis career
First male player to win 20 Grand Slam titles
Federer won his 20th Grand Slam title at the 2018 Australian Open when he defeated Marin Čilić in the finals. His record was later surpassed by both Nadal and Djokovic. He is the first male tennis player and the fourth after Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf to win 20 or more Grand Slam titles. Court holds the all-time record, male or female, with 24 wins followed by Williams’ 23.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) September 16, 2022
In 2009, he won his 15th Grand Slam with a victory at Wimbledon. He thus became the first to break Pete Sampras’ then all-time record for men’s singles title.
Most Wimbledon men’s singles titles and the oldest to win it
He has won the Wimbledon title a record eight times. His first Wimbledon win came in 2003. It was also Federer’s first Grand Slam title. Federer went on winning the next four Wimbledon titles.
His last Wimbledon tournament win came in 2017. The victory also made him the oldest men’s player to win the title, at the age of 35 years and 342 days.
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. pic.twitter.com/VDWylKvW86
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) September 15, 2022
At the age of 36 years, 173 days, Federer became the second-oldest man to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open era after Ken Rosewall, who won the 1972 Australian Open at 37.
Second-oldest male tennis player to win Grand Slam in Open Era
Federer was 36 years and 173 days old when he lifted the Australian Open trophy in 2018. It made him the second-oldest man to win a Grand Slam in the Open Era. The record is held by Ken Rosewall who won at age 37 in 1972, also at the Australian Open.
Only player to win two Grand Slams five consecutive times
Apart from winning Wimbledon on five consecutive occasions from 2003 to 2007, Federer also won the US Open title on five consecutive occasions from 2004-2008.
He never won the US Open title after 2008, but his five make him the joint record holder for most titles at the tournament with Sampras and Connors.
Multiple Grand Slam finals records
Federer is the only player to reach 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals in the men’s singles tournaments. He did this from Wimbledon in 2005 to US Open in 2007. During this period he won every Grand Slam tournament except two French Opens. This means he never lost two consecutive finals in the period.
He is also the first player in history to have reached all four Grand Slams in two consecutive calendar years — 2006 and 2007 — and the only player to do so thrice. The third was in 2009 — the year Federer won his only French Open title.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) September 15, 2022
He is the only male player to have played in seven consecutive Wimbledon finals, from 2003 to 2009.
Federer is also the only male player to reach the finals of French Open, Wimbledon and US in the same year on four consecutive occasions from 2006 to 2009.
The Swiss is the only male player to be seeded No.1 in 18 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, a feat that ran from French Open in 2004 to Wimbledon in 2008.
In total, he played 31 finals and is behind Djokovic’s record tally of 32 in men’s singles.
Most consecutive weeks as World No.1
Federer spent 237 consecutive weeks as World No.1 from February 2004 to August 2008 — a record he holds to date. Interestingly, he was dethroned from the top spot at the time by Nadal.
The record also makes him the only player in the Open Era, male or female, to remain No.1 for more than four years straight.
Oldest male tennis player to become World No.1
Including his consecutive weeks as World No.1, Federer spent 310 weeks as World No.1.
In February 2018, he surpassed the record of Andre Agassi as the oldest player to take the top spot when he defeated Robin Haase in the quarter-finals of the World Tennis Tournament. At the time, he was 36 years and 320 days old.
“Reaching No 1 is one of, if not the ultimate achievement in our sport,” Federer said afterwards. “Sometimes at the beginning you just kind of get there because you played so well but later you have to fight for it and have to wrestle it back from someone who deserves to be there. When you are older you maybe have to put double the work in. This maybe means the most to me in my career.”
Never retired from a match in his career
Federer has probably been the fittest among the men in tennis. He has played a total of 1,526 singles matches and 223 doubles matches in his career. Not once did he retire during any. By comparison, both Nadal and Djokovic have retired during their matches in the past.
Longest winning streaks on grass and hard courts
He holds the Open Era record for the longest winning streak on grass with 65 victories and the all-time record on hard court with 56.
Second highest ATP titles in Open Era
Federer has won 103 ATP singles titles, second only to Jimmy Connors’ Open Era record of 109. The Swiss Open Gstaad in 1998 was Federer’s ATP Tour debut. He won his first title on 4 February 2001, beating Julian Boutter at the Milan Indoor tournament. His 103rd win came at home, at the Swiss Indoors Basel in 2019.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) September 15, 2022
The ATP titles include his Grand Slam victories, 28 ATP Masters titles, and a record six ATP Finals.
Second highest singles matches win in Open Era
With 1,251 wins, Federer is only behind Connors’ 1,274 wins in singles matches in the Open Era. The Swiss player’s first victory came on 30 September 1998 at the Toulouse Open.
Olympic champion and national titles
Partnering with compatriot Stan Wawrinka, Federer won the gold medal in the men’s doubles event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He won the silver in men’s singles at the 2012 London Olympics, losing to Andy Murray of Great Britain.
He also won the Hopman Cup titles a record three times for Switzerland — 2001, 2018 and 2019. He also won the 2014 Davis Cup for his country.
As a Swiss national, he is the only player from his country to win all four majors and the only male player to hold the No.1 rank in singles competition.
(Main and Featured images: William West/AFP)