On Friday, Roger Federer was welcomed back to Shanghai in style.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion was presented with the Icon Athlete Award at the ATP Masters 1000 event, affording fans at the event he won twice an opportunity to see him for the first time in four years, and since his 2022 retirement.

"Ever since I showed up here as a teenager in 2002, maybe I even had a ponytail, I looked different, I played different, but I got so many fans, I feel like, from the first moment I came," Federer said, as per the ATP website.

"I feel like I got the most incredible support here in Shanghai and in China. I've been very fortunate to play here for so many years."


Federer went 23-6 at the ATP Masters 1000 event in his career and won the title in 2014 and 2017. He also finished runner-up in 2010, and won the ATP Finals when the event was held in the city in 2006 and 2007 as the Tennis Masters Cup.

During the ceremony, Federer took selfies with fans from the court, and spoke to the crowd about some of his most memorable Shanghai matches. One he called out specifically was his crowning moment in 2017, the year in which he won his final Grand Slam tournament title at the Australian Open and had a resurgence after the first of his multiple knee surgeries.

“I played Rafa on so many occasions ... I’m happy we could do it here, not just once but three times. It’s even more special if it’s in a final," Federer said. "I played a fantastic tournament and a fantastic year when I came back [after] my knee problem."


Federer was joined for the celebration by International Tennis Hall of Famer Li Na and current ATP Chinese No. 1 Zhang Zhizhen, and spoke glowingly about the evolution of Chinese tennis since the height of his days on tour.

“It’s been great to see tennis grow in China. One icon is standing here and a future superstar in the making there," he said.