Roger Federer revealed that he was proud and grateful for his legendary career on Wednesday at the Laver Cup in London, where he reflected on his record-breaking accomplishments ahead of his final tour-level event.
The 41-year-old announced his retirement last week after 25 years on Tour, a decision that left him feeling bittersweet.
“You always want to play forever. I love being out on court, I love playing against the guys and I love travelling. I never really felt like it was that hard for me to do, of winning, learn from losing, it was all perfect,” Federer said in his press conference. “I love my career from every angle. That's the bitter part [of retiring]. The sweet part was that I know everybody has to do it at one point. Everybody has to leave the game. It's been a great, great journey. For that, I'm really grateful.”
In a historic career, the Swiss star spent a record 237 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings from 2 February 2004 to 17 August 2008, while he lifted 103 tour-level titles, including 20 Grand Slam crowns.
“I'm definitely very proud and very happy where I sit,” Federer said when analysing his place in the history books. “One of my big moments of course was winning my 15th Slam at Wimbledon when Pete [Sampras] was sitting there. Anything after that was a bonus. That was the record and then of course it was other records along the way… I'm very happy that I was able to win another five Slams from 15 on. For me it was incredible. Then I [won] over 100 titles and all that stuff has been fantastic.”
Photo Credit: Pool/Getty Images
Having made his tour-level debut in Gstaad in 1998, Federer has been a dominant force in the sport for over two decades. Alongside the numbers, the 28-time ATP Masters 1000 champion admitted he was proud of his longevity at the top of the game.
“I was famous for being quite erratic at the beginning of my career. If you remember, I was famous for being not so consistent. To then become one of the most consistent players ever is quite a shock to me, as well,” Federer said. “That has been a great accomplishment for me personally. People can judge if they think that's the case too, but for me, that is something I have really enjoyed and that I have been able to stay at the top for so long and compete for any tournament I would enter and really go out there and say, ‘I hope I can win the tournament’, for 15-plus years.
“I think looking back that has a special meaning to me because I always looked to the Michael Schumachers, Tiger Woods, all the other guys that stayed for so long at the top that I didn't understand how they did it. Next thing you know, you're part of that group, and it's been a great feeling.”
Federer last competed on Tour at Wimbledon in 2021, where he advanced to the quarter-finals before losing to Hubert Hurkacz in what was his final singles match. The 28-time ATP Masters 1000 champion admitted that he was aiming to compete again next season, but his knee injury proved too challenging to recover from.
“There was a certain process that started at the beginning of the summer where you try to go to the next level in training and I could feel it was getting difficult,” Federer said. “So at that point I knew any hiccup, any setback, for that matter, was going to be the one potentially…I think tennis is a tough sport to bounce back into, because you have to be able to play long matches, five matches in a row every week, different continents, different surfaces.
“Mentally you need to know you have to be able to get all the way back there, and it's hard. Then maybe the hardest part after that one point, of course you're sad in the very moment when you realise, okay, ‘This is the end’. I sort of ignored it for a little bit almost, because I went on vacation and just said, ‘Okay, this is it’. This moment came shortly after I was at Wimbledon where I still truly actually believed there was going to be a chance for me to come back the next year. At what capacity, I didn't know, but I thought it might be possible.”
Federer will compete for Team Europe against Team World in doubles on Friday in what will be his final tour-level match. Having faced long-time rival Rafael Nadal 40 times, the Swiss star admitted ending his career alongside the Spaniard on court would be fitting if they do decide to join forces for the clash.
“It could be quite a unique situation if it were to happen,” Federer said when asked about teaming with Nadal. “For as long as we battled together to having always this respect for one another, the families, our coaching teams, we always got along really well. For us as well to go through a career that we both have had and to come out on the other side and being able to have a nice relationship I think is maybe a great message as well to not just tennis but sports and maybe even beyond. For that reason I think it would be great. I don't know if it's going to happen, but I think it could be obviously a special moment.”
Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
With the Laver Cup taking place at the O2 in London, it gives Federer a final chance to play in a city where he has tasted so much success. The 41-year-old lifted a record eight Wimbledon trophies in the UK capital, while he triumphed at the Nitto ATP Finals twice when the event was held in London.
The 20-time major champion is excited by the prospect of ending his career in London and is grateful to have the opportunity to retire at an event surrounded by other stars.
“I'm happy to do it here in London. This city has been special to me,” Federer said. “Maybe the most special place with Wimbledon down the road and here at the O2. I just thought it was very fitting. I have always enjoyed the crowds here as well.
“Having Bjorn Borg on the bench with me for my final game resonated also in a big way with me. Having all the other guys around just felt like I was not going to be lonely announcing my retirement.”
Team Europe will be looking to capture a fifth consecutive title against Team World in the three-day event, held from Friday through Sunday.