Roger Federer Announces Retirement From Tennis After Storied Career


After 20 Grand Slam titles, Roger Federer retires as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. (Courtesy of Twitter)

As the serve return flew into the net and dropped to the grass, a young Swiss man did the same. Roger Federer had just done the improbable, winning Wimbledon at age 21, the first major title of his young career. That victory sparked a nearly two-decade long run of dominance for Federer that resulted in 20 Grand Slam titles. Made famous by his striking one-handed backhand and elegant playstyle and described by tennis legend John McEnroe as the “most beautiful player” he had ever seen, Federer dominated the competition while maintaining humility and class. 

So when Federer announced last Thursday that he would be retiring from professional tennis, the sport undoubtedly lost one of its greatest, on and off the court.

“Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamed, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career,” Federer said in a social media post. At 41 years old, the Swiss great has undergone multiple knee procedures in recent years and has accumulated 24 years of wear and tear on the court. 

“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. But I also know my body’s capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear,” Federer said. 

Understandably, the news of Federer’s retirement did not come as a shock. However, that did not stop the plethora of praise from some of his greatest rivals, including Novak Djokovic. 

“Your career has set the tone for what it means to achieve excellence and lead with integrity and poise. It’s an honor to know you on and off the court, and for many more years to come,” Djokovic wrote on Instagram. 

There was perhaps no one who knew Federer better on and off the court, however, than his greatest rival and best friend Rafael Nadal. The two treated the tennis world to decades of intense, top of the line matches going head-to-head on the biggest stages. Battles such as the 2008 Wimbledon final, which saw Nadal outlast Federer in a five-set classic at the height of the Swiss’ career, will undoubtedly go down in history. Although they were always pitted as bitter rivals, in recent years, their admiration and respect for each other has become ever so clear. “Dear Roger, my friend and rival, I wish this day would never have come,” Nadal put simply on Instagram. “It’s a sad day for me personally and for sports people around the world.”

The era of “The Big Three” (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic) has entertained tennis fans for decades. Although two out of the three are still actively playing, Federer’s retirement serves as a reminder that it can’t last forever. In the last season, tennis fans have already seen the emergence of exciting new players such as Americans Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz as well as Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz and Russian Daniil Medvedev. This comes at the same time as Nadal has shown signs of his age, as he was forced to withdraw from his semi-finals match this year at Wimbledon. While Djokovic has remained dominant, questions still loom over his vaccination status that may continue to hamper his ability to compete in major tournaments.

Amidst all the emotion, tennis fans were treated to seeing Federer take the court one final time. Federer announced within his retirement that his last match would be at the Laver Cup, one  which saw him pair with Nadal against Americans Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock. Predictably, Federer and Nadal put up a tremendous fight, falling just short 6-4, 6-7 (2), 9-11. The score and outcome of the match meant nothing, however, as immediately after the last point the two tennis icons embraced. What ensued was a celebration. Surrounded by a packed London crowd, and among the company of friends, family and formal rivals, Federer grabbed the mic and bid farewell to the tennis world. “It’s been a perfect journey,” he said. “I would do it all over again.”