Roger Federer bid farewell to professional tennis on Friday night at the Laver Cup in London 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, Federer, the Swiss tennis legend and 20-time Grand Slam winner, appeared to cry and waved to the crowd, muttering “Thank you.”
“It’s been a perfect journey,” Federer said. “I would do it all over again.”
During the final moments of the two-hour-plus match that lasted until midnight, spectators chanted “Come on, Roger! Come on!”
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 Associated Press reported, so fans came out in droves to celebrate.
Hours before Friday’s game, 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 came back from vacation, I could really feel the feeling growing in me: ‘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 In 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 played over 1,500 games in 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever could have dreamed of, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.”
Later, speaking with Guthrie, he said he’s excited to spend more time at home with his family. Federer has twins Myla and Charlene, 13, and twins Lenny and Leo, 8, with his wife Mirka.
He told Guthrie that he feels his generation of tennis pros has “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 seems, loved watching me play, which I think is the highest compliment.”
The Associated Press contributed.