Serena Williams welcomes Roger Federer to “retirement club”

Serena Williams welcomes Roger Federer to “retirement club”

Serena Williams welcomed Roger Federer to the “retirement club” after the 20-time Grand Slam champion announced he will end his professional tennis career.

Federer has struggled with a knee problem for the past three years and, at the age of 41, has accepted defeat in his bid for the last hurray.

He will play in next week’s Laver Cup in London, the Ryder Cup-style competition that was his idea, but then he will leave the pro game.

Williams, who said goodbye to sports at the US Open less than a fortnight ago, wrote on Instagram that she was among the “millions and millions” of people Federer inspired during his 24-year career.

He said, “I wanted to find the perfect way to say it, as you silenced this game so eloquently – perfectly done, just like your career.

“I have always admired you and I have admired you. Our paths have always been so similar, so similar. You have inspired countless millions and millions of people – myself included – and we will never forget that.

“I applaud you and look forward to everything you do in the future. Welcome to the retirees club. And thank you for being you ”.

Federer made the announcement Thursday via a letter posted on social media, which began: “To my tennis family and beyond. Of all the gifts tennis has given me over the years, the greatest, undoubtedly, has been the people I met along the way: my friends, my competitors and above all the fans who give life to this sport.Today I want to share some news with you all.

“As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgery. I worked hard to get back to full competitive form.

“But I also know the capabilities and limitations of my body and lately its message has been clear to me. I’m 41 years old. I’ve played over 1,500 games in 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever imagined, and now I have to recognize when it’s time to end my competitive career.

“The Laver Cup next week in London will be my last ATP event. I will play more tennis in the future, of course, but not in the Grand Slams or on the tours ”.

Federer hasn’t played a competitive match since losing to Hubert Hurkacz in last year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals.

He later announced that he needed further knee surgery, having previously undergone two operations in 2020 that kept him out for more than a year.

The Swiss had been targeting a full comeback after the last operation, but it became increasingly clear that his rehabilitation was not going as he hoped.

Federer’s Grand Slam record has now been surpassed by both his great rival Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but many, especially the fans he brought to the sport, consider him the best of all time.

Federer said: “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 luckiest people on Earth. I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level I never imagined, for much longer than I thought possible. “

A prodigious junior, the Swiss won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003 and his last at the Australian Open four years ago in an unexpected three Grand Slam swan song.

His remaining records include the most consecutive weeks at world number one with 237 and a streak of 23 Grand Slam semi-finals in a row, as well as his eight Wimbledon titles.

He thanked his family for their support, especially his wife Mirka, an almost constant presence at his side throughout his career, and their four children.

He continued: “I have been lucky enough to play so many epic games that I will never forget.

We fought fairly, with passion and intensity, and I always did my best to respect the story of the game. I feel extremely grateful. We pushed each other and together we took tennis to new heights.

“Above all, I have a special thank you to my incredible fans. You will never know how much strength and conviction you have given me.

“The inspiring feeling of entering full stadiums and arenas has been one of the great emotions of my life. Without you, those successes would have felt lonely, rather than full of joy and energy.

“The last 24 years on tour have been an incredible adventure. Even though it sometimes feels like it’s gone in 24 hours, it’s also been so deep and magical that it feels like you’ve already lived a lifetime. “

2003 men's singles final

Roger Federer’s first Grand Slam title was the men’s singles at Wimbledon in 2003 (PA)

Concluding his letter, Federer wrote: “When my love of tennis began, I was a boy with the ball in my hometown of Basel. I watched the players with a sense of wonder.

“They were like giants to me and I started dreaming. My dreams led me to work harder and I started believing in myself. A few successes brought me confidence and I was well on my way to the most incredible journey that has led to this day.

“So, I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart, everyone around the world who helped make the dreams of a young Swiss boy with the ball come true. Finally, to the game of tennis: I love you and I will never leave you “.

Federer’s influence on tennis will remain through the Laver Cup and the management agency he shares with longtime agent Tony Godsick, while what else he will do in his retirement remains to be seen.

Nadal also paid tribute on social media, writing: “Dear Roger, my friend and rival. I wish this day would never come. It is a sad day for me personally and for sports around the world.

“It has been a pleasure but also an honor and a privilege to share all these years with you, experiencing so many incredible moments on and off the pitch.

“We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still many things to do together, we know that. For now, I really wish you all happiness with your wife, Mirka, your children, your family and enjoy what awaits you. See you in London @LaverCup.

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