Photo : Roger Federer on Twitter
It was only a matter of time.
Or only a matter of years, if you asked his superfans.
Or only a matter of months, if you asked the most lucid observers.
But for his team and his physicians, it was only a matter of weeks before the reality of Federer’s age (41) and beat-up knees caught up with him. On September 15, 2022, the news came down like a hammer.
The man many will say is the greatest player in the history of tennis shared his decision to bring his career to a close in a four-page letter released on social media.
He was the master of his destiny from start to finish. Only he could make such an important announcement. The man who’s always carefully cultivated his image—before the advent of social media and ever since—used his channels to relay the announcement.
Roger Federer won on every continent and at every type of tournament, from the majors (eight titles at Wimbledon) to the smallest events, including exhibitions. He held every organizer, every spectator and every rival in high regard.
A gentleman of the world
To create ties with as many fans as possible, he speaks nine languages. He can converse in his native Swiss German, German, French and English and say a few words in Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin and the Afrikaans he learned from his South African mother.
Being a global superstar who’s constantly in the spotlight and still cutting a literally perfect figure with no false notes, false moves or false pretenses isn’t easy.
Many of the players who make up the tennis elite have had a little something negative stick to them, from the slightest criticism to the most embarrassing flaw. Almost everyone’s had a taste of it.
As far as Roger Federer, I searched far and wide and can’t find anything of the sort in his (very) long career, from his availability, openness and rigor to his accomplishments on and off the court, including his charitable work around the world and especially in Africa, where the Roger Federer Foundation is doing great things.
I could list the records he held in late 202, but how about this 20-screen summary instead?!
From the endless inventory, I’ll remember his win at Roland-Garros in 2009, firstly because clay is where he was least successful and especially because of a simple and original ad that aired when his victory was confirmed.
When he tied Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Slam titles, private jet company NetJets released a TV commercial I’ve never forgotten.
With his 14th major and the title of GOAT in hand, he went on to add six more winner’s trophies to his collection and reach the mythical total of 20. He’s since been overtaken by Rafael Nadal (22) and Novak Djokovic (21).
Countdown to September 23 in London
Fortunately, we haven’t seen the last of him on the courts. In his retirement message, he wrote: “The Laver Cup 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.”
Some good news on a sad day. The Fed Express will keep rolling.
Will his knee hold up for all the matches he was planning on playing at Laver Cup, which he helped create in 2017? Let’s hope so, because there’ll be some high-level tennis despite the more relaxed atmosphere, not to mention the promise of another spectacular doubles duel featuring team Fedal.
Photo : Laver Cup
So, we’ll get to see his unmatched grace, his fast and fluid service motion, his elegant yet lethal backhand and the aura of excellence that exudes from his athletic body again, at exhibition matches.
Even at 41. Or at 42, 45 and hopefully beyond.
And it’ll be without the disappointment that comes with losses that deprive him of a win or title: the beauty of exhibition matches is that they’re good fun for a good cause. The score won’t be as important as seeing one of the greatest of all time on the court.
One of the greatest, indeed. But the most beloved and most adored, without a doubt.
Auf Wiedersehen, Roger. Und sehe dich bald.
Goodbye, Roger. And see you soon.
Au revoir, Roger. Et à très bientôt.