“I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career,” the 20-time grand slam winner said in an Instagram post.
The last few years of Federer’s career have been marred by a series of injuries, as he underwent two knee surgeries in 2020 and another after he was defeated by Hubert Hurkacz in the 2021 Wimbledon quarterfinal – his last competitive match to date.
“As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries,” he said. “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’s long career coincided with those of 22-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal and 21-time grand slam winner Novak Djokovic, with whom he dominated men’s tennis for the last two decades.
“I would also like to thank my competitors on the court,” Federer said.
“I was lucky enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget. We battled fairly, with passion and intensity, and I always tried my best to respect the history of the game. I feel extremely grateful.”
Nadal took to Twitter to commemorate his great rival and friend: “Dear Roger,my friend and rival. I wish this day would have never come. It’s a sad day for me personally and for sports around the world. It’s been a pleasure but also an honor and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court.
“We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still lots of things to do together, we know that … I’ll see you in London.”
Despite playing alongside two of the greatest players of all time, Federer has still broken multiple records, including becoming the oldest ever world No. 1 at age 36 and remaining at the top of the rankings for a record 237 consecutive weeks.
Among his many accolades, Federer won a career grand slam: the Australian Open six times, the French Open once, the US Open five times, and Wimbledon – the tournament with which he was synonymous – a record eight times.
He also won 103 ATP titles – the second most in the Open era behind only Jimmy Connors – a record six ATP finals, the Davis Cup and a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in the men’s doubles alongside Stan Wawrinka.
“This is a bittersweet decision, because I will miss everything the tour has given me,” he said.
“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 a level that I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible.”
“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.
“I have had the immense fortune to play in front of you in over 40 different countries. I have laughed and cried, felt joy and pain, and most of all I have felt incredibly alive.”
As well as thanking his fans, Federer thanked his team, sponsors, parents, sister, wife and children, and recalled his time growing up in Basel, Switzerland.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Almost as soon as Federer announced his retirement, tributes began rolling in from the tennis world.
Newly crowned US Open champion and men’s world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, who was two months old when Federer won his first grand slam, tweeted a broken heart emoji, as did two-time grand slam winner Garbiñe Muguruza.
“Roger, where do we begin?” posted Wimbledon’s official Twitter account.
“It’s been a privilege to witness your journey and see you become a champion in every sense of the word. We will so miss the sight of you gracing our courts, but all we can say for now is thank you, for the memories and joy you have given to so many.”
On his own terms
Federer’s retirement announcement arrived a month after Serena Williams also declared her intention “to evolve away” from the sport, signaling an almost simultaneous end to eras in which they have shaped men’s and women’s tennis.
Williams’ likely swansong unfolded at the US Open – in her home country and at the site of her first grand slam triumph – but Federer told CNN’s Christina Macfarlane in 2019 that he had no such specific plans.
“I think it will all come down to is it the body, is it the family, is it the mind, is it a morning when I wake up, how will it happen?” he said.
“The day that it happens, maybe that is the end or maybe I say I’ve got a few more tournaments left in me, I don’t know. And then maybe that one tournament that I think it could be is way too far away and then you just can’t make it there … Wimbledon stands out as a place but there are actually many others.”
Due to injuries, Federer was absent from this year’s main draw at Wimbledon for the first time since 1998, and he will finish his career at the Laver Cup – a tournament which he was a driving force behind in which six players from Europe play six players from the rest of the world.
“I would like to go out on my terms,” he added in 2019. “I don’t have the fairytale ending in my head saying it has to be another title somewhere and then I have to announce it big and say, ‘By the way, that was it, guys.’ I don’t have to have it that way.
“The expectations from the media is that it all has to end so perfectly and I’ve given up a long time ago. I just think as long as I’m healthy and I’m enjoying myself at the very end, I know it’s going to be emotional anyway.”