Roger Federer has announced his retirement from tennis at the age of 41.
The 20-time grand-slam champion has been struggling with a knee problem for the last three years and has decided now is the time to step away. Federer will play in next week’s Laver Cup in London, the Ryder Cup-style competition that was his brainchild, but will then leave the professional game.
Federer made the announcement via a letter posted on social media, which began: “To my tennis family and beyond. Of all the gifts that tennis has given me over the years, the greatest, without a doubt, has been the people I’ve met along the way: my friends, my competitors, and most of all the fans who give the sport its life. Today, I want to share some news with all of you.
“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. I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career.
“The Laver Cup next week in London will be my final ATP event. I will play more tennis in the future, of course, but just not in grand slams or on the tour.”
Federer has not played a competitive match since losing to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last summer. He subsequently announced he needed more surgery on his knee having previously undergone two operations in 2020 that kept him out for more than a year. Federer had targeted a full return following the last operation but it became increasingly clear that his rehabilitation was not going as well as he had hoped.
Federer’s grand-slam record has now been surpassed by both his great rival Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic but many people, especially the legions of fans he brought to the sport, will still consider him the greatest of all time.
Roger Federer kisses the Wimbledon trophy after winning the men’s singles final in 2003.
Roger Federer kisses the Wimbledon trophy after winning the men’s singles final in 2003. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
Federer continued: “This is a bittersweet decision, because I will miss everything the tour has given me. But, at the same time, there is so much to celebrate. I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on Earth. I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level that I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible.”
Federer, who won his first grand slam at Wimbledon in 2003, thanked his family for their support, writing: “I would like to especially thank my amazing wife Mirka, who has lived through every minute with me. She has warmed me up before finals, watched countless matches even while over eight months pregnant, and has endured my goofy side on the road with my team for over 20 years.
“I also want to thank my four wonderful children for supporting me, always eager to explore new places and creating wonderful memories along the way. Seeing my family cheering me on from the stands is a feeling I will cherish forever.”
Federer’s retirement, coming less than a fortnight after Serena Williams was given an emotional send-off at the US Open, is another indication that this momentous era in tennis is drawing to a close. “I was lucky enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget,” said Federer. “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.
“Above all I must offer a special thank you to my unbelievable fans. You will never know how much strength and belief you have given me. The inspiring feeling of walking into full stadiums and arenas has been one of the huge thrills in my life. Without you, those successes would have felt lonely, rather than filled with joy and energy. The last 24 years on Tour have been an incredible adventure. While it sometimes feels like it went by in 24 hours, it has also been so deep and magical that it seems as if I’ve already lived a full lifetime.”
Concluding his letter, Federer wrote: “When my love of tennis started, I was a ball kid in my hometown of Basel. I used to watch the players with a sense of wonder. They were like giants to me and I began to dream. My dreams led me to work harder and I started to believe in myself. Some success brought me confidence and I was on my way to the most amazing journey that has led to this day.
“So, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart, to everyone around the world who has helped make the dreams of a young Swiss ball kid come true. Finally, to the game of tennis: I love you and will never leave you.”