Blythe Hastings ’23
Roger Federer is retiring from professional tennis at age 41 after a series of knee operations, closing a career in which he won 20 Grand Slam titles, finished five seasons ranked No. 1, and helped create a golden era of men’s tennis with rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Federer’s 20 Grand Slam titles rank third all-time among men’s players behind only contemporaries Nadal (22) and Djokovic (21). Federer said he intends to keep playing tennis but not in any Grand Slam matches. He had not played a competitive match since reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2021 and announced in mid-August that he had undergone another knee surgery. He had, however, appeared at an event marking the 100th anniversary of Centre Court at the All England Club in July and said he hoped to come back to play there one final time. He also had said he would return to tournament action at the Swiss Indoors in October.
“This is a bittersweet decision because I will miss everything the tour has given me,” Federer said. “But at the same time, there is so much to celebrate. I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on Earth. I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level that I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible.” Federer leaves with 103 tour-level titles on his substantial résumé and 1,251 wins in singles matches, 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—with 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—and winning eight—from 2005 to 2007, a run that also extended to 18 of 19 major finals until 2010. Federer compiled streaks of 36 quarterfinals in a row and 23 semifinals in a row from 2004 to 2013, which is especially impressive in a sport where surface changes impact even the best of players. 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 is still a winning title at the sport’s four biggest tournaments.