Roger Federer, winner of 20 Grand Slams and for many the best tennis player in history, announced his final retirement at the age of 41 on Thursday. After a long time out due to a knee injury, the Swiss will play his last tournament next week at the Laver Cup to be held at the O2 in London.
The Basel tennis player has announced that he is hanging up the racket through a heartfelt message on social networks, where he expresses his "love" for tennis and thanks the support received from his family, his team, his coaches, fans, sponsors and even of the rivals he has faced during the 24 years of a virtually unrivaled career.
That ball boy who looked at tennis players as if they were "giants", as Federer himself recalls, has signed one of the most brilliant stories not only of tennis, but of sport in general. Of 1,526 games, he won 1,251, which helped him win 103 titles, of which, obviously, the 20 great ones stand out. His successes, only surpassed by two other myths such as Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, have always been accompanied by elegance, both in his game and off the court, always an example to follow in every word, every gesture, regardless of whether he lost or won.
That talent exhibited on grass, clay or hard court for decades was hidden in his first years of career, when his strong character went against his many virtues. His coaching staff and his loved ones, whom now, looking back, he recognizes their tremendous importance, knew how to make him see that he should put the focus on his prodigious wrist, the same one that has tormented his opponents with forehands , serves, volleys, dropshots and above all that one-handed backhand, as aesthetic as it is powerful.
This is the full farewell letter from Roger Federer:
To my tennis family and beyond,
Of all the gifts that tennis has given me over the years, the greatest, without a doubt, has been the people I have met along the way: my friends, my competitors and, above all, the fans who give life to this sport. . Today, I want to share some news with all of you.
As many of you know, the last three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries. I've worked hard to get back to full competitive shape. But I also know the capabilities and limits of my body, and its message to me lately has been clear. I have 41 years old. I have played more than 1500 games in 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I could have ever dreamed of, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.
The Laver Cup next week in London will be my last ATP event. I will play more tennis in the future, of course, but not at Grand Slams or on tour.
This is a bittersweet decision, because I am going to miss everything that the tour has given me. But at the same time, there is much to celebrate. I consider myself one of the luckiest people on Earth. I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible.
I would like to especially thank my amazing wife Mirka who has lived every minute with me. She warmed me up before finals, she watched countless matches even when she was over 8 months pregnant and has put up with my goofy side on the road with my team for over 20 years. I also want to thank my four wonderful children for supporting me, always eager to explore new places and make wonderful memories along the way. Seeing my family cheering me on from the stands is a feeling I will cherish forever.
I would also like to thank and acknowledge my loving parents and my dear sister, without whom nothing would be possible. Thank you so much to all my former coaches who have always steered me in the right direction...you have been wonderful! And to Swiss Tennis, who believed in me when I was a young player and gave me an ideal start.
I really want to thank and acknowledge my amazing team, Ivan, Dani, Roland, and particularly Seve and Pierre, who have given me the best advice and have always been there for me. Also Tony, for creatively running my business for over 17 years. You are all amazing and I have loved sharing every minute with you.
I want to thank my loyal sponsors, who are truly like partners to me; and the hard-working teams and tournaments on the ATP Tour, who consistently greeted us all with kindness and hospitality.
I would also like to thank my competitors on the court. I was lucky enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget. We fought fairly, with passion and intensity, and I always did my best to respect the history of the game. I feel extremely grateful. We push each other and together we take tennis to new levels.
Above all, I must offer a special thanks to my amazing fans. They will never know how much strength and confidence they have given me. The inspiring feeling of entering packed stadiums and arenas has been one of the great emotions of my life. Without you, those successes would have felt lonely, instead of full of joy and energy.
The last 24 years of touring have been an incredible adventure. While sometimes it seems like it happened in 24 hours, it has also been so profound and magical that it feels like I've already lived my whole life. I have had the immense fortune to play in front of you in more than 40 different countries. I have laughed and cried, felt joy and pain, and above all I have felt incredibly alive.
Throughout my travels, I have met so many wonderful people who will remain friends for life, who always took time out of their busy schedules to come see me play and cheer me on all over the world. Thanks.
When my love for tennis began, I was a ball boy in my hometown of Basel. I used to look at the players with a sense of wonder. They were like giants to me and I began to dream. My dreams led me to work harder and I began to believe in myself. Some successes gave me confidence and I was on my way to the most incredible journey that has taken me to this day.
So I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart, everyone around the world who has helped make the dreams of a young Swiss ball boy come true.
Finally, to the game of tennis: I love you and I will never leave you.