Following Serena Williams's decision to retire at the recent US Open, the tennis GOATs are bowing out in 2022. Roger Federer, the 20-time grand slam title winner, announced his official retirement on social media. Next week's Laver Cup in London will be his final event.
"As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries," Federer told fans on Instagram. "I've worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body's capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear. I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career."
Calling the moment "bittersweet," he acknowledged that there was also so much about his history on the court worth celebrating. "I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on Earth," he continued. "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."
As one of the "Big Three" alongside Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, his younger rivals eventually passed his record within the last few years, with Djokovic at 21 grand slam titles, and Nadal now holding the top spot with 22. The tennis world expected Roger to be back in full form following his knee surgery for at least one last go at Wimbledon in 2022, but the 41-year-old's recovery seemed to drag on.
Over the course of his career, Roger Federer spent a record 237 straight weeks as the No. 1 ranked player in the world. He won six Australian Opens, one Roland-Garros in France, five U.S. Opens, and a record eight Wimbledon championships. He also has 103 singles titles on the ATP tour and an Olympic gold medal in doubles from Beijing in 2008.
"I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart to everyone around the world who has helped make the dreams of a young Swiss ball kid come true," he said. "Finally, to the game of tennis: I love you and I will never leave you."
This story was first published on Esquire US.