Novak Djokovic paid tribute to Roger Federer’s ‘integrity and balance’ after announcing his impending retirement.
Federer announced on Thursday that he will retire at the age of 41 after next week’s Laver Cup in London.
Djokovic will also be part of Team Europe at The O2, with the Serb’s big four of Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray reuniting one last time.
Federer and Djokovic faced each other 50 times between 2006 and 2020, including in five Grand Slam finals, and the latter wrote on Instagram: “Roger, it’s hard to look at this day and to put into words all that we are in have shared together in this sport.
“Over a decade of incredible moments and battles to think back on. Her career has set the tone for what it means to achieve excellence and lead with integrity and composure.
“It’s an honor to know you on and off the pitch and for many more years to come. I know this new chapter will have amazing things in store for you, Mirka, the kids, all your loved ones and Roger fans to look forward to.
“From our family to yours, we wish you much happiness, health and prosperity in the future. I look forward to celebrating your achievements and seeing you in London.”
Serena Williams welcomed Federer to the ‘retirees club’ and the two greats ended their careers within weeks.
Williams, who said goodbye to emotional scenes at the US Open, wrote on Instagram that she is one of the “millions and millions” of people who have inspired Federer in his 24-year career.
She said: “I wanted to find the perfect way to say this as you have so eloquently put this game to rest – done perfectly, just like your career.
“I’ve always looked up to you and admired you. Our paths were always so similar, so similar. You have inspired untold millions and millions of people – including me – and we will never forget it.
“I salute you and look forward to all you will do in the future. Welcome to the pensioners club. And thank you for being you.”
Venus Williams, who is still acting at 42, said on Instagram: “Greatest of all time. Miss you already.”
Federer made the announcement via a letter posted on social media, accepting defeat in his attempt to recover from a third knee operation in 18 months.
“As many of you know, the last three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries,” he said. “I’ve worked hard to be fully competitive again.
“But I also know my body’s capacities and limitations and its message to me has been clear lately. I am 41 years old. I’ve played more than 1,500 games in 24 years.
“Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever dreamed possible and now I have to realize when it is time to end my competitive career.”
Concluding the letter, Federer said: “I want to say a big thank you to all of you, all around the world, who have helped make the dreams of a young Swiss ball kid come true.
“Finally on the game of tennis: I love you and will never leave you.”
Tributes poured in from across the sporting world and beyond and continued on Friday.
Nick Kyrgios wrote on Instagram: “No one will ever play the game like you do. Enjoy @rogerfederer……was an honor.”
Coco Gauff added: “Thank you @rogerfederer for improving the game in so many ways on and off the pitch.
“Thank you for all the advice you have given me over the years. Thank you for being the best role model for so many. Thank you for everything.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/roger-federer-novak-djokovic-laver-cup-serena-williams-venus-williams-b2168918.html Djokovic praises Federer’s ‘integrity and balance’ ahead of his retirement