Serena Williams welcomes Roger Federer to the ‘Retirement Club’

Serena Williams has welcomed Roger Federer to the ‘retirement club’ after the 20-time Grand Slam champion announced he is retiring from professional tennis.

Federer has been struggling with a knee problem for three years and has accepted defeat in his bid for one last hurray at the age of 41.

He will compete in the Laver Cup in London next week, the Ryder Cup-style competition that was his idea but then left professional sport.

Williams, who retired from the sport at the US Open less than two weeks ago, wrote on Instagram that she was among the “millions and millions” of people Federer has inspired throughout 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.”

Federer made the announcement on Thursday via a letter posted on social media, which began: “To my tennis family and beyond. Of all the gifts tennis has given me over the years, undoubtedly the greatest are the people I have met along the way: my friends, my competitors and most importantly, the fans who give the sport its life. Today I want to share some news with you all.

“As many of you know, the last three years have been challenging for me with injuries and surgeries. 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’s time to end my competitive career.

“Next week’s Laver Cup in London will be my last ATP event. Of course I will play more tennis in the future, but not in Grand Slams or on the tour.

Federer has not played a competitive game since losing to Hubert Hurkacz in last year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals.

He then announced that he needed another knee surgery after previously undergoing two surgeries in 2020 that kept him away for more than a year.

The Swiss had been aiming for a full return after the last surgery but it was becoming increasingly clear his rehabilitation was not going as well as he had hoped.

Federer’s Grand Slam record has now been surpassed by both his great rival Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but many, particularly the fans he brought to the sport, consider him the best ever.

Federer said: “It’s a bittersweet decision because I will miss everything the Tour has given me. But at the same time there is so much to celebrate.

“I consider myself one of the happiest people on earth. I was given a special talent to play tennis and have done it at a level I could never have imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible.”

An amazing junior, the Swiss won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003 and his last at the Australian Open four years ago in an unexpected three-slam swan song.

His remaining records include most consecutive weeks as world no. 1 with 237 and a streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals, as well as his eight Wimbledon titles.

He thanked his family for their support, especially his wife Mirka, who was by his side almost constantly throughout his career, and their four children.

He continued, “I’ve been fortunate enough to play so many epic matches that I’ll never forget.

“We fought fairly, with passion and intensity, and I always did my best to respect the history of the game. I feel very grateful. We pushed each other and together we took tennis to a new level.

“First and foremost, I have to say a special thank you to my incredible fans. You will never know how much strength and faith you gave me.

“The inspiring feeling of walking into packed stadiums and arenas has been one of the greatest thrills of my life. Without you, those accomplishments would have felt lonely rather than filled with joy and energy.

“The last 24 years on tour have been an amazing adventure. While at times it feels like 24 hours have passed, it was also so deep and magical that it seems like I’ve already lived a lifetime.”

Roger Federer’s first Grand Slam title was the men’s singles at Wimbledon in 2003 (PA)

(PA Archive)

Concluding his letter, Federer wrote: “When my love for tennis began I was a ball kid in my hometown of Basel. I used to watch the players with a sense of wonder.

“They were like giants to me and I started dreaming. My dreams made me work harder and I started believing in myself. A degree of success gave me confidence and I was on my way to the most amazing journey to date.

“So from the bottom of my heart I want to thank you all, everyone around the world, who helped make the dreams of a young Swiss ball kid come true. Finally on the tennis game: I love you and will never leave you.”

Federer’s influence on tennis will remain through the Laver Cup and the management agency he shares with longtime agent Tony Godsick, while it remains to be seen what else he will do in his retirement.

Nadal also paid tribute to social media, writing: “Dear Roger, my friend and rival. I wish that day had never come. It’s a sad day for me personally and for sport around the world.

“It has been a pleasure but also an honor and a privilege to share all these years with you and share so many amazing moments on and off the pitch.

“We will have many more moments together in the future, there is still a lot to do together, we know that. For now, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you the best of luck with your wife Mirka, your children, your family and enjoy what lies ahead. See you in London @LaverCup.” Serena Williams welcomes Roger Federer to the ‘Retirement Club’

Fry Electronics Team

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