Roger Federer, who today announced his intention to retire from the Laver Cup this month, is the benchmark by which every tennis champion – past or present – is measured, and a true global ambassador who has transcended the sport.
In a career of astonishing performance, the Swiss was not only thrilling to watch in the efficiency and beauty of his execution, but at the height of his prowess in his quest for historical records, Federer played with great precision. Not only did his own game evolve over 25 seasons as a professional, but he also forced his rivals — many of whom had a Federer poster on their bedroom walls — to improve as well.
Federer’s longevity was based on his ability not only to play superbly on any surface, but to combine excellent fitness with strategy and anticipation. Tennis fans will today reflect on his legacy and periods of dominance, most notably his record of 237 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP rankings from February 2, 2004 to August 17, 2008, and how he also achieved a record 23 consecutive Grand Slam titles. semifinals from Wimbledon 2004 to the semifinals of Roland Garros in 2010 (20 of which were won).
But there was also his dedication, dedication and desire to not only outpace his fellow professionals, but to develop every aspect of his game. Throughout his illustrious career, Federer has engaged specialist coaches such as Tony Roche, Paul Annacone, Stefan Edberg and Ivan Ljubicic to bolster his established and trusted team. Federer went on to develop his service strategy, the way he volleyed and how his single-handed backhand improved to take on his biggest rivals, most notably Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
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Roger Federer with Tiger Woods at the 2006 US Open
Federer led a golden era for professional men’s tennis. Every game against Nadal (16-24) or Djokovic (23-27) popularized the sport, drawing new fans to the sport for a must-see and some unforgettable encounters on the sport’s biggest stages. Still, it was Federer’s relentless hunger, in the face of all-time competition, that remained unabated and memorably helped him win 10 homegrown trophies in Basel and Halle’s grass, and eight at the championship, Wimbledon. His example became the hallmark of modern professionalism.
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Consistency enabled Federer to reach the top for the last time at the age of 36 in June 2018, increasing his number of weeks at No. 1 to 310 (surpassed only by Djokovic last year), and also helped the Swiss achieve his Grand Prix. Adding slam total to an then-20 singles title record, including 103 tour-level trophies. His longevity, marked by 968 weeks in the Top 10 between May 20, 2002 and October 11, 2021, also enabled him to take 1,251 race wins (so far) – just short of Jimmy Connor’s records of 109 crowns and 1,274 race wins.
As great as a champion Federer was on the field, he had just as much of an impact on it, using his global appeal for good. Beginning his six-year tenure as ATP Player Council chairman (2008-2014), he stressed that tennis should keep pace with other sports. With his legacy already secured, he was able to promote the causes of every player on the professional ladder and helped usher in a new era of financial success and restructuring for the TBEN.
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Roger Federer records his 1000th race win in Brisbane in 2015.
Federer’s demeanor and graceful nature made him what Pele is to football and Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods to golf. Federer won the ATPTour.com Fans’ Favorite Award every year from 2003 to 2021 and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award 13 times. Able to converse in multiple languages, he also used his reach to make a huge impact as a philanthropist and multimillion-dollar fundraiser for charities and his own foundation, which supports community-driven initiatives to improve education in Southern Africa and Switzerland. .
Remarkably, in 1,526 singles matches and 223 doubles matches, Federer never stopped playing — even after knee surgery curtailed his on-field appearances in recent years. But now, at the age of 41, 14 months after his last Wimbledon match, the superstar is ready to make time for a historic chapter. While his focus will be on his family, wife Mirka, and their two growing twins, he will likely remain involved in the game, saying he would still go to court. “Of course I will play more tennis in the future, but just not in Grand Slams or in the Tour,” he said in his farewell announcement.
One is certain: Federer will be remembered forever as long as the sport of tennis is practiced.