A couple of weeks ago Roger Federer, probably the greatest tennis player of all time, announced his retirement following the 2022 Laver Cup tournament in London. I was very sad about the news, as I’m sure were all his devoted fans all over the world; we are talking about a champion on and off the court, someone who made the history of tennis not only for the titles he won, but also for the elegance and precision of his game.
I first saw him play when I was a teenager and I was captured by his ability and gracefulness on the court. The first tennis match I ever watched involved a very young Novak Djokovic, another great champion, but I went on to see other matches and what kept me glued to the television was Roger Federer. Djokovic is why I approached tennis as a sport, but Federer is why I stayed.
I started playing about ten years ago while on holiday in Croatia and I fell in love with the game. My tennis instructor said I was talented and encouraged me to continue; I wasn’t as much into fitness as I am today, so I was lacking a bit of resistance on the court and would often feel out of breath, but nonetheless it was fun to learn and practice a bit. I would even use the wrong tennis racket because, being a huge Federer fan, I bought the one sponsored by Wilson that was suitable for adult men, not for a 19-year-old girl who was just starting to play; the tennis racket was so heavy to use that I gave it to my father, while I was advised to get a Babolat racket meant for beginners.
I think it’s great when people inspire you to take up a new hobby because this also makes you discover something new about yourself, and I will always be grateful to Roger Federer for everything he’s done as a tennis player. He has been a great source of joy and inspiration for thousands of people around the globe as well.
When Roger Federer played, he played with intelligence, elegance, grace and brilliance; seeing him play was like contemplating a work of art. He truly represents tennis, as he’s the one who made the sport popular and beloved by so many people. The poetry of his game gives unmatched high notes of class, the same class he embodies as a human being; not only is he known for the fair play and respect towards his opponents on the court, but also for his being kind to other people in real life and supporting children’s education and other fundamental causes through his Foundation.
Federer has won so much throughout his long career; 103 ATP singles titles, 20 Grand Slam singles titles including 8 men’s singles Wimbledon titles, 5 men’s singles US OPEN titles and six ATP finals. He was ranked # 1 by ATP for 310 weeks (with a record 237 consecutive weeks) and, along with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, he is considered one of the most successful male tennis players of all time. His friendship/rivalry with Nadal has been something absolutely riveting and unique to watch for tennis fans all over the world; two very distinct tennis players that have always shown respect and admiration towards one another and have built a solid, off-court friendship over the years. Federer and Nadal’s rivalry is in a class by itself, more than the one between Sampras and Agassi, probably because they brought tennis to another level, expanding its borders and advertising not just a sport but a way of being that set them apart from anyone else, even from the strongest and most talented opponents. They have indeed been part of the most amazing decades of tennis; as Federer famously said when he won the Australian Open Grand Slam title in 2017, “There are no draws in tennis, but I would have been happy to share this trophy with Rafa tonight.”
Seeing them play against each other has always been suspenseful, emotional and uplifting for any tennis fan out there.
It is difficult to point out the exact qualities that shape Federer’s uniqueness, but his ability to make even the most difficult shots seem easy is what has always stood out. His natural stroke is the forehand; his backhand has been improved thanks to his opponents. His serve is very accurate indeed but elegance remains his best quality at all times. It seems like he doesn’t even sweat, perhaps because he does not hit the ball but rather he caresses it, preferring to focus on accuracy instead of strength.
About his own retirement, the Swiss Maestro said: “It is 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 was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level that I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible.”
It is very hard to imagine the tour without Federer, but it has also been a privilege to witness his journey, the journey of a true champion. I will miss seeing him play and I wish him all the best; along with sadness, I feel also thrilled for what he will do next, as he promised that we will see him again in the public scene and on the court as well. And to you, Roger, I know I speak for all your fans; we love you and we will never leave you.
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