Federer is already a former professional tennis player: “To the game of tennis: I love you and will never leave you”
Roger Federer said goodbye and the succession of broken hearts around the world is overwhelming. The first, that of Carlos Alcaraz, who at 19 confirmed that not all dreams come true: on Sunday he won the US Open to become the new number one in world tennis, but on Thursday he learned that his goal of facing the Swiss for the first time will only be possible in an exhibition.
And it won’t be the same, it’s not.
Federer, in fact, will say goodbye in an exhibition organised by himself, the Laver Cup, which will be played in London from 23 to 25 September. And after that?
After that, there will be no Basel tournament, as he had planned, nor any other professional tournament. The right knee, operated on three times between 2020 and 2021, said enough. “My body is giving me signs that I’m 41 years old,” said the owner of 20 Grand Slam titles.
“I am one of the luckiest people on Earth,” the Swiss added in a video of just over four minutes in which he said goodbye to tennis by stringing together a succession of thanks.
The most important one?
“I especially want to thank my amazing wife Mirka, who was with me every step of the way, she has warmed up with me before finals, watched countless matches even while being over eight months pregnant.”
And then he thanked his four children, his parents and sister, his coaches, the Swiss Tennis Federation, his group of coaches and trainers, his manager Tony Godsick, his sponsors, the tournaments, the ATP staff and his rivals on the tour: “I was lucky enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget. Together we took tennis to new levels”.
In his final stretch, the farewell grew in intensity and emotion: “Most of all, a special thank you to my incredible fans. You will never know the strength and support you gave me. I was fortunate to play in front of you in more than 40 countries. I laughed, I cried, I felt happiness, I felt pain, and most of all, I felt incredibly alive.”
Federer appealed to a dramatic device that is renowned for its effectiveness: the flashback. He took everyone back to his childhood.
“I started to dream, my dreams made me work harder and I started to believe in myself. Some successes gave me confidence and propelled me on the most incredible journey, which ends today.”
“I want to thank from the bottom of my heart all those in the world who allowed the dreams of a young Swiss ball boy to come true”.
An unexpected image: Federer understands that his career is summed up in “the dreams of a young Swiss ball boy”.
But nothing compared to his final sentence, which has the unusual power to be both saddening and hopeful at the same time. It was when he spoke directly to his lifelong partner, tennis.
“Finally, to the game of tennis: I love you and will never leave you”.
Clay’s managing editor has covered more than 60 Grand Slam tournaments since 1996. Author of “Sin Red”, a journey around the world following Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.