Roger Federer has taken to the courts for the last time as his illustrious career comes to an end

After 24 years of excellence on the court, Federer will retire as one of the best the sport has ever seen, beloved by competitors and fans alike.

And before his latest competitive appearance, some of his toughest opponents over the years, the ones he’s defeated and, on rare occasions, even lost, have given him a reputation.

“It has a lot of sports fans to start following tennis,” three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray told CNN Sport. “He’s one of the most recognizable athletes in all of sports for the way he goes about his business on and off the court, and yes, he’s going to leave a huge void and definitely be missed by tennis.”

Twenty-one-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic echoed Murray’s sentiment, highlighting Federer’s wider influence. “As a tennis fan, not just his rival and tennis player, I appreciate everything he has done for our sport.

“He’s brought so much attention to our athletes on and off the court, and he’s brought a lot of other sports fans to watch tennis, so his contribution has been huge. He’s had a huge impact on my career, I’ve become a better player because of the competition I’ve had with him over the years,” he said. Djokovic to CNN Sport. “I am sure that his iconic career will live on for a very long time and will be remembered by many people in the most positive way.”

Although he has not been able to appear as much as he would like in recent years, Federer’s presence has been strong.

Making his Tour debut in 1998, he was one of tennis’ most dominant players for more than two decades, setting records for both the Tour and the men’s Grand Slam singles titles.

During his long and distinguished career, Federer spent a record 237 consecutive weeks at the top of the world rankings between 2004 and 2008. And ahead of his final game, he said he is proud of his tenure at the top.

Federer plays from behind in the quarterfinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“At the beginning of my career I was famous for being quite inconsistent. If you remember, I was famous for not being so consistent. Then to become one of the most consistent players ever is quite amazing for me too,” Federer. he told the media on Thursday.

“That’s been a big achievement for me, personally. People can judge whether they think that way or not, but for me it’s something that I really enjoy and that I’ve been able to be at the top and compete for so long. I’d go into any tournament and really come out and say, ‘I hope to win the championship’, for more than 15 years.

“I think looking back has a special meaning for me because I always looked at the Michael Schumachers, Tiger Woods, all the other guys who were at the top for so long, I didn’t understand how they did it. The next thing you know, you’re part of that team, and it’s been a great feeling.” .

Although Djokovic and Nadal have surpassed Federer’s record for men’s Grand Slam singles titles, the Swiss has remained a fan favorite for his elegance and grace on and off the court.

The 41-year-old’s appearances have been limited in recent years due to injury, which has required several knee surgeries in recent years, with his last outing falling short against Hubert Hurkacz in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year.

He said two months ago, before he decided to retire, that he plans to return to the sport next year.

Federer said he had to get permission from Team Europe captain Björn Borg and tournament organizers to play in just one doubles match at the Laver Cup — where the rest of Europe and the world go head-to-head in nine singles matches. and three doubles matches over three days.

Federer poses with Nadal, Djokovic and Murray after a training session ahead of the 2022 Laver Cup.

“Very special playing with Rafa [Nadal]it feels really different, you know?” Federer said at Thursday’s press conference. “Also, being able to go out on the court and play with the likes of Rafa or Novak. [Djokovic] It’s been an amazing experience for me in the past too, so to be able to do it again, I’m sure it will be fantastic.’

Nadal said at Thursday’s press conference that he was “excited” for Friday’s doubles match.

“After all the amazing things we’ve shared together on and off the court, [to] be part of this historic moment, something for me, it will be amazing and unforgettable,” said Nadal, “and yes, very excited, I hope to have fun, to play at a decent level and to be able to create together. good moment and maybe win a game.”

Federer will play his doubles match on Friday night, before Italy’s Matteo Berrettini replaces the Swiss in the European Group for the rest of the competition. The Laver Cup was created by Federer in 2017 and is named after Australian great Rod Laver.

And for the man who will undoubtedly receive a hero’s send-off from London’s adoring crowd when Nadal faces Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, Federer admitted he would miss tennis.

Federer takes a selfie with his European Group teammates ahead of the 2022 Laver Cup.
“I love tennis, everything about it,” he said. “I will lose the competition, whether the fans are cheering for me or against me.

“They’ve usually been with me the whole way, so it’s been great. I can always travel, so I’m not going to miss that, but I love going on tour with my family even in the second half of my career — it’s been wonderful.”

He added: “You want to play forever. I love being on the court, I love playing against guys and I love traveling. I never felt like it was so hard to do — to win, to learn to lose. — everything was perfect.

“I love my career in every way. That’s the bittersweet part [of retiring]. It was the sweet part that I know everyone has to do at some point. Everyone must leave the game. It’s been a great, great trip. For that, I’m really grateful.”

CNN’s George Ramsay contributed to this report.