September 15, 2022
Roger Federer displayed typical grace and class as he told the tennis world the time had finally come for reluctant retirement.
Charming to the last, he painted beautiful reflections as he prepared to step aside.
Roger Federer’s news also left at least one likely superstar of Wimbledon 2023 heartbroken.
That was the emoji US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz chose to place on a personal photograph of the pair together on a grassy court.
It was simple and succinct and probably captured what we are all feeling in the tennis community right now.
Federer won’t play a competitive Wimbledon again. But it’s hard to believe Roger will never play on those beautifully manicured grass courts as a veteran during future Championships.
‘To the game of tennis, I love you and will never leave you,’ he admitted.
Like the rest of the world, we had hoped Federer could soldier on until next summer and take his final bow at the Wimbledon 2023. Roger had probably aimed for as much himself.
Instead he has listened to his body and left us with rich treasures in the form of endless memories. Perhaps too many to fathom at first.
Wimbledon’s reaction conveyed this perfectly: ‘Roger, where do we begin? It’s been a privilege to witness your journey and see you become a champion in every sense of the word.
‘We will so miss the sight of you gracing our courts, but all we can say for now is thank you, for the memories and joy you have given so many.’
You can bet the love affair between Roger Federer and Wimbledon isn’t entirely over. It will simply take on a different form in time.
For now, Federer has also found just the right words. He said: ‘The last 24 years on tour have been an incredible adventure.
‘While it sometimes feels it went by in 24 hours, it has also been so deep and magical that it seems as if I’ve already lived a full lifetime…
‘I have laughed and cried, felt joy and pain, and most of all I have felt incredibly alive…Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt…’
Roger could have talked of his twenty Grand Slam singles titles, including eight sparkling Wimbledon trophies and 237 consecutive weeks as world number one.
But that would have sounded too much like boasting for a man of such exquisite humility. And so he preferred to focus on other human beings.
‘Of all the gifts that tennis has given me over the years, the greatest, without a doubt, has been the people I’ve met along the way.
‘My friends, my competitors, and most of all the fans who give the sport its life.’
He wants those fans to carry on loving tennis and his beloved Wimbledon. Of that there can be no doubt.
And we’ll keep loving Roger Federer. Now more than ever, because he still doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry in the aftermath of his momentous decision.
Roger explained: ‘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.’
The final, fond competitive farewell will take place in London at the Laver Cup.
But we still suspect we might just see Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2023 in some capacity or other.
How can any of us stay away, Fed included, when there is still so much magic in the Wimbledon air?
The phenomenal Alcaraz, the rebellious Kyrgios and the masterful Djokovic are supreme entertainers who will capture the imagination along with charismatic Raducanu and brilliant Swiatek.
Meanwhile Murray and Nadal will try to roll back the years at Wimbledon 2023 in Federer’s absence.
Roger Federer will want nothing more than to see his beloved sport continue to thrive without him.
And it will thrive, painful as it feels for the moment to contemplate the departure of an all-time-great. It really will.