‘I wish this day would have never come’: The world of sport reacts to Roger Federer’s retirement
The outpouring of praise and admiration in the wake of Roger Federer’s retirement announcement is a testament to the Swiss tennis star’s remarkable impact and legacy in the world of tennis, sport and beyond.
Where Federer’s on-court achievements rank among the greats in the men’s game — though he is no doubt in the top three — will be up for debate, but there is no question he is the most transcendent tennis player to ever pick up a racket.
Nobody else in the sport has garnered the global adoration, the endorsements or become an icon quite like Federer.
Twenty two-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal, whose career-long rivalry with Federer produced some of the most memorable matches in the sport’s history, called it an “honor and privilege” to compete against him.
“Dear Roger, my friend and rival,” Nadal wrote. “I wish this day would have never come… it’s a sad day for me personally and for sports people around the world. I said it to you when we spoke and now it’s here.
“It’s been a pleasure but also an honor and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court. We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still lots of things to do together, we know that.
“For now, I truly wish you all the happiness with your wife, Mirka, your kids, your family and enjoy what’s ahead of you. I’ll see you in London at the Laver Cup.”
Twenty three-time grand slam champion Serena Williams, who recently announced her own retirement from tennis, welcomed Federer to the “retirement club.”
“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,” she wrote 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.”
Federer’s success at Wimbledon, winning the title at the All England Club eight times, meant he became synonymous with the green grass of Centre Court. He last lifted the trophy there in 2017, 13 years after his first Wimbledon win.
“Roger, where do we begin?” the tournament’s official page wrote. “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 to so many.”
Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady said in a press conference on Thursday: “Phenomenal, great player, you know, he’s just a great competitor and you know … he had a great run, he was great, always respectful of everybody and meant a lot.”
Tennis pioneer and Hall of Famer Billie Jean King wrote on Twitter: “Roger Federer is a champion’s champion. He has the most complete game of his generation & captured the hearts of sports fans around the world with an amazing quickness on the court & a powerful tennis mind. He has had a historic career w/memories that will live on and on.
“Congratulations @rogerfederer. We wish you the very best as your journey continues.”
Current women’s world No. 1 and three-time grand slam champion Iga Swiatek added: “I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done and everything you are for our sport. It’s been a privilege to witness your career. I wish you all the best.”
Two-time NBA champion and six-time All-Star Pau Gasol said: “Thank you for inspiring us and setting a great example for all of us.”
In a statement posted on the official Olympics Twitter page, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said, “@RogerFederer is a gentleman on and off the court — and a true Olympic champion. Congratulations Roger on your outstanding career, good luck for the future. Hope our paths will cross again.”
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