Roger Federer is retiring from professional tennis aged 41 after a series of knee surgeries, capping a career in which he won 20 Grand Slam titles, finished five seasons at number one and helped create a golden era in men’s tennis with his rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
“As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries,” Federer said in a post on his social media accounts on Thursday. “I’ve worked hard to get back to full competitive form. But I also know my body’s capabilities and limitations, and his message to me lately has been clear.
“I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1500 matches in 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I could have ever dreamed of, and now I have to recognize when it is time to end my career competitive.”
To my tennis family and beyond,
—Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 15, 2022
Federer’s 20 Grand Slam titles rank third all-time among male players behind contemporaries Nadal (22) and Djokovic (21).
Federer said he intended to continue playing tennis, “but not in Grand Slams or on the tour”. He hadn’t played a competitive match since reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2021 and announced in mid-August that he had undergone further knee surgery.
But he appeared at an event marking Center Court’s 100th anniversary at the All England Club in July and said he hoped to return to play there “one more time”. He had also announced that he would return to tournament play at the Swiss Indoors in October.
“It’s a bittersweet decision because I will miss everything the tour has given me,” Federer said. “But at the same time, there’s 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 that at a level I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible.”
Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray are set to play together for the first time when they face off September 23-25 as part of Team Europe at the Laver Cup in London. Named after Australian great Rod Laver, the three-day team event, hosted by Federer’s management company, pits six of Europe’s top players against six from the rest of the world.
Federer walks away with 103 tour-level titles on his substantial resume and 1,251 singles match wins, both behind Jimmy Connors in the Open era, which began in 1968. Federer’s records include being the oldest No. 1 in the history of the ATP rankings – he returned to the top spot at 36 in 2018 – and most consecutive weeks there; his total weeks mark was eclipsed by Djokovic.
When Federer won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, Pete Sampras held the men’s record for titles; the American had won his 14th at the US Open the previous year in what turned out to be the last game of his career.
Federer would go on to blow well beyond that, finishing with 20 winning eight championships at Wimbledon, six at the Australian Open, five at the US Open and one at the French Open. His 2009 trophy at Roland Garros allowed Federer to complete a career Grand Slam.
His serve, forehand, footwork and attacking style will be remembered forever. His matches against young rivals Nadal, 36, and Djokovic, 35, were also unforgettable, both of whom equaled and then surpassed Federer’s Slam tally and still win titles in the sport’s four biggest tournaments. .
“I had the chance to play so many epic matches that I will never forget,” Federer said in Thursday’s announcement. Addressing his “competitors on the court”, but not by name, he wrote: “We pushed each other and together we took tennis to new levels.”
Federer and his wife, Mirka – also a tennis player; they met as athletes at the Olympics – have two sets of twins.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.