More than 19 years after winning his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, which set him on the path to being hailed as the greatest player of all time, Federer in the early hours of Saturday said goodbye to tennis.
He couldn’t finish with a win, losing his doubles match to European Team to Cup of the tank alongside longtime rival Rafael Nadal.
Legend. @rogerfederer | #RForever | @WashCup | #WashCup https://t.co/TEkxmUvltA
– ATP Tour (@atptour) 1663977462000
At 41 and trying to recover from a third knee operation in 18 months, the great Swiss has bowed to the inevitable march of time.
“…to say goodbye to a team, I always felt like I was a team player at heart. Singles don’t really do that but… https://t.co/FKuk6t8NjY
– ATP Tour (@atptour) 1663977838000
He leaves the sport with 20 Grand Slams, including eight Wimbledon titles, 103 titles and over $130 million in prize money alone, all driven by rare grace, laser-sharp precision and a signature one-handed backhand.
What. A career. 🥺🙌#RForever https://t.co/BxzQBHs6gW
– ATP Tour (@atptour) 1663979780000
Self-confidence was never an issue – who else could have walked onto center court at Wimbledon in a tailored cream blazer with an embroidered crest?
FEDERAL FOREVER @rogerfederer 🫂 @RafaelNadal https://t.co/QQdzl5j9Av
— #AusOpen (@AusOpen) 1663976026000
The artistry associated with the Swiss has earned him a global legion of fans adorned in ‘RF’ hats and given him an aura that few achieve.
A famous columnist even wrote a gushing article entitled “Federer as a religious experience”.
Federer also held the No. 1 spot in the world for 310 weeks, including 237 consecutive weeks between February 2004 and August 2008.
His net worth was estimated in 2019 at $450 million and the cash register recognition of the Federer brand is such that in 2018 he signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with clothing manufacturer Uniqlo.
He was 36 at the time.
At his peak, Federer left his opponents bamboozled.
“I threw the kitchen sink at him but he went to the bathroom and took his bath,” sighed an exhausted Andy Roddick after losing the Wimbledon final in 2004.
Off the court, however, he is Federer the family man, father of two sets of twins, Myla Rose and Charlene Riva and Leo and Lenny with his wife Mirka, a former player he met at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. .
His path to superstardom wasn’t always so smooth.
As a talented young player, Federer’s temper threatened to stunt his progress.
“I had a hard time coping on the court, trying to behave properly. For me, that was a big deal,” he admitted.
At just 19, Federer beat personal hero Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001.
Twelve months later, however, Federer left Wimbledon in the first round.
It took a personal tragedy for him to press the reset button.
Just before he turned 21, his trainer and close friend from his formative years, Peter Carter, was killed in a car accident in South Africa.
From then on, the multilingual Federer was committed to winning in style, no longer being consumed by his inner demons.
Born on August 8, 1981 in Basel, to a Swiss father Robert and a South African mother Lynette, Federer started playing tennis at the age of eight.
Turning professional in 1998, he won his first ATP title in Milan in 2001 and has racked up trophies every year except 2016, 2020 – when he only played the Australian Open – and 2021, another shortened season.
His first extended rest, to recover from a knee injury caused by bathing his two daughters, led to a revival in 2017, with a refreshed Federer winning an 18th major at the Australian Open.
It was after the first of his titles at the Australian Open in 2004 that he ranked number one in the world for the first time.
Federer has eight Wimbledon titles, six Australian Open titles, five US Open titles and just one Roland Garros.
He won 28 Masters, an Olympic doubles gold in 2008 with close friend Stan Wawrinka and a Davis Cup win for Switzerland in 2014.
Had he not competed in the same era as Nadal, who has 22 majors, and Novak Djokovic, his trophy collection might have been more impressive.
Nadal, who forged a close relationship with Federer, enjoyed a 24-16 head-to-head advantage.
Against Djokovic, with whom relations have never been so cordial as with the equally revered Nadal, Federer trailed 27-23.
They shared history in 2019 when the Serb triumphed in the longest Wimbledon final ever, just three minutes shy of five hours.
Heartbreaking for Federer, he wasted two championship points.
Since that day, Djokovic has also equaled and surpassed his mark of 20 Slams and broken his record for weeks at number one.
Despite the impressive numbers accumulated over more than two decades, Federer admitted he was still dealing with some serious nerves ahead of a big tennis occasion.
“Sometimes it slows down your legs, your pulse starts to quicken…it can stress you out a bit,” he said.
“I always say I’m happy to feel that because it means I care. It’s not like going through the stages. It would be a horrible feeling, to be honest.”
On the eve of his shattering loss to Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final, Federer said he hasn’t set a date to retire.
“It’s just discussions I always have with my wife about family, my kids, is everyone happy on tour, are we happy to pack up and go on tour for five, six, seven weeks. Are we ready to do it?” he said.
“At the moment it doesn’t seem to be a problem at all, which is wonderful.”
However, with a year lost due to injuries and the Covid-19 pandemic as well as a return to a standstill in 2021, Federer’s ‘wonderful time’ is finally over.