By Ana Bodevan, October 6, 2022—
On September 23, a tennis player from Basel, Switzerland teamed up with his longtime Spanish rival and friend for the last professional match of his career. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played against Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe at the Laver Cup, in London. The European duo ended in a loss to the Americans, but that didn’t obscure the true intent of the match – to celebrate and pay homage to one of tennis’ greatest players. Under the cries of “Let’s go Roger, let’s go!” tennist was moved to tears in an emotional celebration deserving of a 24-year career marked by 103 competitive singles titles, 20 Grand Slams and the longest stint atop the ATP rankings.
The announcement of Federer’s retirement came on September 15, in an emotional Instagram post.
” I’m 41 years old. I have played over 1500 games in 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever dreamed of, and now I have to recognize when it’s time to end my competitive career,” the post read. “As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries. I worked hard to get back to full competitive form. But I also know the capabilities and limitations of my body, and its message to me lately has been clear.
Federer also thanked his competitors, showing his gratitude over the years for being able to compete against other top athletes.
“I was blessed to play so many epic matches that I will never forget. We fought loyally, with passion and intensity, and I always did my best to respect the history of the game. I am extremely grateful,” the post read.
Federer says his love for tennis started when he was a child working as a kid in his hometown of Basel. “I used to look at the players with a sense of wonder. They were like giants to me and I started dreaming. My dreams made me work harder and I started believing in me, “he says. After a few victories in national tournaments, Federer was enrolled, at 14, in the Swiss national tennis development program, leaving his home for the first time to live in a city he did not understand. not the language (Basel is a Swiss German-speaking city, while Eclubens, where the program took place, is French-speaking.) Regardless of the difficulties, Roger thrived, winning his first international junior titles, including a Wimbledon trophy.
In his first professional season in 1999, Federer debuted at the 301st position in the international ranks and finished it at the 64th position. It was then that the world witnessed the birth of a new tennis sensation. Over the decades, Federer has proven the hype is deserved, with eight Wimbledon singles titles – he has won the most wins in the oldest and most prestigious tennis competition in the world.
After appearing and winning his first Grand Slam final in 2003, Federer would go on to dominate the sport. Curiously, Federer is particularly successful against American players: in total, he has won 105 out of 118 singles matches against American players. With 20 Grand Slams to his credit, 15 of which he won in just six years, from 2003 to 2009, it’s safe to say that Federer conquered America.
However, Federer did not rule the world of men’s tennis alone. Alongside Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the European trio was called The Big Three. Since Wimbledon 2003, they have together won 63 of 77 major tournaments.