Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray are set to play together for the first time when they compete Sept. 23-25 as part of Team Europe at the Laver Cup in London. Named after Australian great Rod Laver, the three-day team event, which is run by Federer’s management company, pits six of Europe’s top players against six from the rest of the world.
Tony Godsick, Federer’s agent since 2005, told The Associated Press that Federer had been having issues in his latest recovery from knee surgery.
“A few weeks after Wimbledon, he informed me that the knee was not reacting as well as it should and that he was thinking about figuring out a way to end his career,” Godsick said in a telephone interview. “I had suggested to him years ago that he should stop. Not many tennis players at his level push into their 40s. But he was always interested in challenging himself. And at the end of the day, after 1,500-plus matches, the tires finally wore out. And he’s got things to do in his next stage.”
Federer leaves with 103 tour-level titles on his substantial résumé and 1,251 wins in singles matches, both second only to Jimmy Connors in the Open era, which began in 1968. Federer’s records include being the oldest No. 1 in ATP rankings history — he returned to the top spot at 36 in 2018 — and most consecutive weeks there; his total-weeks mark was eclipsed by Djokovic.
The dominance Federer displayed at the height of his powers is unrivaled, including reaching 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals, winning eight, from 2005 to 2007, a run that also extended to 18 of 19 major finals into 2010.
In a sport where changes in surface and other conditions can make even the best players thrilled with a showing here or there into the second week of a Slam, Federer compiled streaks of 36 quarterfinals in a row and 23 semifinals in a row from 2004 to 2013.
“Roger Federer is a champion’s champion. He has the most complete game of his generation and captured the hearts of sports fans around the world with an amazing quickness on the court and a powerful tennis mind,” Hall of Famer Billie Jean King said. “He has had a historic career with memories that will live on and on.”
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 year before in what turned out to be the final match of his career.
Federer would go on to blow way past that, ending up with 20 by 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 serving, forehand, footwork and attacking style will all be remembered. Also unforgettable were his matches against younger rivals Nadal, 36, and Djokovic, 35, who both equaled, then surpassed, Federer’s Slam total and are still winning titles at the sport’s four biggest tournaments.
“I was lucky enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget,” Federer said in Thursday’s announcement. Addressing his “competitors on the court,” although not by name, he wrote: “We pushed each other, and together we took tennis to new levels.”
Serena Williams, who announced ahead of the US Open that she intends to retire from tennis, sent a tribute of her own to Federer on Thursday.
“I wanted to find the perfect way to say this, as you so eloquently put this game to rest — perfectly done, just like your career,” Williams said in a post on Instagram.
“I have always looked up to you and admired you. Our paths were always so similar, so much the same. You inspired countless millions and millions of people — including me — and we will never forget. I applaud you and look forward to all that you do in the future.
“Welcome to the retirement club. And thank you for being you @rogerfederer.”