The End of an Era as Tennis Great Roger Federer Announces His Retirement

All-time tennis great Roger Federer announced that he will be retiring at the end of 2022. His exit from the game comes on the heels of Serena Williams indicating that she will be ending her illustrious career very soon as well. With Federer heading off into the sunset, it is a good time to look back on his career and his monumental achievements in the sport of tennis.

Roger Federer — From Ball Boy to All-Time Great

Federer began his tennis odyssey as a ball boy in his home country of Switzerland. He played in his first junior match in 1996 when he was just 14. In 1998 he won both the boys’ singles and doubles titles at Wimbledon. A year later he would crack the world’s top 100 for the first time.

In 2003 Federer defeated Mark Philippoussis of Australia in straight sets to win the first of his record eight Wimbledon men’s singles titles. Federer was not only at home on the green grass of Wimbledon, however. He was a true multi-surface player. He won on the hard surface of the US Open at Flushing Meadows on five different occasions. He also conquered the field on the hard courts of the Australian Open five times. The only surface on which he didn’t win a Grand Slam men’s singles championship was clay. He was merely the runner-up five times at Roland Garros’ courts at the French Open. He also failed to win a gold medal at the Olympics, finishing with a silver in 2012.

Federer was a versatile player on the court. He moved swiftly, seeming almost to glide to reach the perfect position for a return volley. He fit the stereotypical profile of quiet Swiss efficiency, always a top contender to win any tournament he entered. At the same time, he remained calm, the eye of the hurricane even when opponents were losing their cool. His game appeared effortless, too, as if he were a clockwork doll that simply needed to be wound up and placed on the court.

Injuries a Factor in Federer’s Later Career

Unfortunately for tennis fans, Federer was not an automaton but a real human being. This made him susceptible to aging and injuries, and Federer had more than his share of the latter as his career went on. His problems began in 2013 with various back injuries. The next year he was forced to withdraw from the ATP Finals due to another back problem. In 2016, following the Australian Open, Federer tore the meniscus in his knee and was forced to cut short his entire season, including missing the Summer Olympics, to rehab his injuries.

Despite his various injury woes, Federer rebounded quickly and the next year won two Grand Slam men’s singles titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. He also regained the №1 ATP ranking for the 309th and 310th time. He already held the record for most consecutive weeks spent at №1 with 237. The man in second place in this category is Ivan Lendl, with 157, meaning that Federer spent almost a year and a half more time consecutively at №1 one than anyone else in the history of the ATP rankings. He also holds the record for the oldest man to be ranked №1, at age 36.

In 2020 and 2021 knee injuries plagued Federer once again. It seemed that age had finally caught up with him. He tried to play through his injuries but was never able to completely recover the incredible greatness he once possessed. By the time his professional career ended (Federer noted when he announced his retirement that he planned to play more tennis in the future, just not professionally) he had played tennis in 40 different countries around the world.

It is, in some ways, difficult to understand the greatness of Roger Federer. He played in an era of great players, both men and women. His two great rivals for court supremacy were Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Had it not been for these two, Federer’s dominance would have been even greater. With Serena Williams also announcing her intention to step away from professional tennis, 2022 may be seen as the end of one of the greatest eras in tennis history. The fact that both these legends are retiring after the age of 40 is astounding and a true testament to their dedication and commitment to the game. Roger Federer can now walk away from professional tennis knowing he was one of its greatest players.

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store