Unstrung: Roger Federer retires


No. 1: "To the game of tennis: I love you and I will never leave you."

It was a moment that every tennis fan knew was coming. But when Roger Federer finally announced his retirement via a social media post back in September, the sport felt it like a blow all the same.

The Swiss great had fought a well-documented battle with knee injuries during the last three years of his career, going under the knife multiple times in hopes of being back to his Grand Slam winning form. After an aborted comeback season in 2021 ended with another knee surgery, many saw the writing on the wall—and a year later, Federer confirmed the news they were dreading.

“I've worked hard to return to full competitive form," Federer wrote in a letter. "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 1500 matches over 24 years.

“Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.”

With the tennis world still reeling from Serena Williams’ emotional retirement ceremony at the US Open, Federer’s announcement seemed to mark a changing of the guard for generations of fans who would come to know the sport through their achievements.

But if the news was huge for tennis fans, it was absolutely massive for players—many of whom also grew up watching and idolizing Federer, citing him as their inspiration to become a pro. With Federer’s last official event scheduled for Laver Cup in a week’s time, London’s The O2 soon became the hottest ticket in tennis.

The team event was a fitting venue for the 20-time Grand Slam champion to say his farewell, as Federer spearheaded the creation of Laver Cup. The event’s fifth edition also boasted a stacked Team Europe lineup, featuring all of the Big Four, including Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, for the first time—and giving Federer the opportunity to celebrate his retirement among his biggest rivals.


The event boasted a stacked Team Europe line-up, featuring all of the Big Four, with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray joining Federer in London.

The event boasted a stacked Team Europe line-up, featuring all of the Big Four, with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray joining Federer in London.

This is a bittersweet decision, because I will miss everything that the tour has given me. But at the same time, there is so much to celebrate.

But although Team World—led by Felix Auger-Aliassime, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe—ultimately got its first victory on Day 3, the moment of the weekend came on the first evening of competition.

The heavyweight doubles duo of Federer and Nadal faced Jack Sock and Tiafoe, in what would be the Swiss’ final match. Unable to compete in singles, Federer put everything he had into the doubles, but the pair came up short as the Americans fought to a 4-6, 7-6 (2), [11-9] victory.

Afterward, there wasn’t a dry eye at The O2 when the tennis world officially waved goodbye to one of its greatest champions. With Ellie Goulding delivering a moving musical performance, Federer let the tears flow watching a career montage—and soon, more and more players including Nadal were also seen dabbing away tears and soaking in the moment. With one more wave to the crowd, the 41-year-old walked off the court as a professional for the last time.

“I’m happy, I’m not sad,” Federer said, even as his eyes filled with tears. “It does feel like a celebration to me.”