Roger Federer is saying goodbye to professional tennis. The 20 Grand Slam winner took to the court at the Laver Cup in London on September 23 with his former competitor and doubles partner Rafael Nadal.
Federer, who had not competed in 15 months, and Nadal lost to Americans Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock, with a final score of 4-6, 7-6 (2), 11-9.
After the match, the Swiss tennis legend appeared to cry and waved to the crowd, murmuring “Thank you”.
“It’s been a perfect journey,” Federer said. “I would do it all over again.”
The Associated Press reported that spectators also shouted “Come on, Roger! Let’s go!” during the final moments of the two-hour-plus match that stretched until midnight.
Federer was also presented with a video tribute, sponsored by his sponsor, the champagne brand Moët & Chandon, entitled “A toast to Roger Federer”.
He was later photographed with his crew, wiping his eyes.
Federer announced last week that this tournament would be his last as a competitor. He had said earlier. he wanted this to be more of a party than a funeral, the AP reported, so fans came out in droves to celebrate.
Hours before the September 23 match, Federer tweeted: “I’ve done it thousands of times, but this one feels different. Thank you to everyone who is coming tonight.”
Federer’s last singles match was his Wimbledon quarter-final defeat in July 2021. His right knee has been injured several times throughout his career and his final three operations followed that final singles match.
He took time off — over a year — but told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie on September 16 that he realized it was time to retire.
“When I got back from vacation, I could really feel the feeling growing in me that ‘I don’t think I can make it back,'” he said. “I could feel very quickly, like, it’s done.”
On a post on social media Announcing his retirement, the tennis champion said that after the “challenges” of his injuries and surgery, he had “worked hard to return to full competitive form”.
“But I also know my body’s capabilities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear,” he said. “I am 41 years old. I have played over 1,500 games over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I could have dreamed, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.”
Later, speaking with Savannah, he said he’s excited to spend more time at home with his family. Federer has twins Myla and Charlene, 13, and twin brothers Lenny and Leo, 8, with his wife Mirka.
He told Savannah that he feels his generation of tennis pros “pushed tennis in the right direction.”
“And I think I did it my way. I’ve always stayed true to myself and people have always, it seemed, loved watching me play, which I think is the best compliment.”
Associated press contributed.