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End of era as Federer retires, but we were lucky to have lived in tennis’ golden age

Mirka Federer and Roger Federer. Photo credit: Roger Federer Facebook

By Ricky Dimon

The end of an era. The end of the Roger Federer Era. The end of a Golden Era–one that also included Serena Williams and still includes Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic.

Tennis will still be great, but will no longer be the same after Roger  Federer announced his retirement earlier this week.

Due to ongoing knee problems, the 41-year-old has not played since Wimbledon in 2021–when he reached the quarterfinals before falling to Hubert Hurkacz. Federer had hoped to make one more comeback, perhaps later this year on the indoor hard courts of Basel or for a final appearance at Wimbledon in 2023. However, the knee–and probably his body as a whole–said otherwise.

“As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries,” Federer posted on social media. “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 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.

“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.”

Hopefully, though, it will last just a little bit longer. If his body allows, the 20-time Grand Slam champion will be a playing member of Team Europe in next week’s Laver Cup at the O2 Arena in London. A doubles pairing between Federer and Nadal is highly anticipated.

Whether he plays another match or not, it has been an amazing journey for both Federer, his fans, and the tennis world in general. If anyone has done more for tennis than Federer (Billie Jean King?) the list is extremely short. The Swiss maestro changed the game on and off the court–the latter with his foundation that helps underprivileged youth in Africa.

A huge fan of Federer I was not, simply because he was so dominant during his prime and I wanted to see a lot of different players share the wealth. Parity, which we are finally starting to see on both the ATP and WTA tours right now, is fun! I did, however, root for him most of the time in the latter stages of his career–most notably in the 2019 Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic in which Federer came up tantalizingly  short after having two championship points on his own serve.

But I digress. No need to bring up painful memories during these times. Federer’s exit from the sport is painful enough!

Despite being a “Nadal guy,” I always respected Federer’s game, his impact on tennis as a whole, and of course his off-the-court exploits. And I always appreciated how lucky I was to live in the Federer era–and to watch it unfold right in front of my eyes. Scrolling back through the history books now that it’s over, I got to see Federer play at least 45 times in person (was probably more than 50, but some matches were so long ago I can’t remember for sure if I was there or not), plus countless practice sessions and press conferences. Those matches include three chapters of the best rivalry in tennis history (and one of the best rivalries in sports history) vs. Nadal–including a French Open semifinal and a Wimbledon semifinal–and that Wimbledon final of which we shall not continue to speak.  

Lucky would be an understatement. Thanks for the memories, Fed.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.