Roger Federer said goodbye to professional tennis on Friday night at the Laver Cup in London with longtime competitor turned doubles partner Rafael Nadal.
Federer, who hasn’t competed in 15 months, and Nadal lost to Americans Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock, with the final score 4-6, 7-6(2), 11-9.
After the match, Federer, the Swiss tennis legend and 20-time Grand Slam winner, appeared to cry and waved to the cheering crowd, saying “Thank you.”
“It was a perfect trip,” Federer said. “I would do it again.”
During the final moments of the more than two-hour game that took place after midnight, spectators chanted “Let’s go, Roger! Let’s go!”
Federer was also treated to a video tribute, sponsored by his sponsor, the Moët & Chandon champagne brand, entitled “A toast to Roger Federer”.
Later, he was photographed with his team, wiping his eyes.
Federer announced last week that this tournament would be his last as a competitor. He had said earlier. he wanted it to be more of a party than a funeral, the Associated Press reported, so fans turned out in droves to celebrate.
Hours before Friday’s game, Federer tweeted“I’ve done this a thousand times, but this one is different. Thank you to everyone who comes tonight.
Federer’s last singles match was his quarter-final loss at Wimbledon in July 2021. His right knee was injured multiple times throughout his career and his final three-surgery followed that final singles match.
He took a leave of absence – more than a year – but told TODAY’S Savannah Guthrie on September 16 that he realized it was time to retire.
“When I came back from vacation, I really felt the feeling growing inside me that ‘I don’t think I can come back,'” he said. “I could feel very quickly, like, it’s done.”
In a post on social media Announcing his retirement, the tennis champion said that following the “challenges” of his injuries and surgeries, he had “worked hard to regain his full competitive form”.
“But I also know the capabilities and limitations of my body, and the message it has given me lately has been clear,” he said. ” I’m 41 years old. I’ve played over 1,500 games in 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever dreamed of, and now I have to recognize when it’s time to end my competitive career.
Later, speaking with Guthrie, he said he was excited to be spending more time at home with his family. Federer is the father of twins Myla and Charlene, 13, as well as twins Lenny and Leo, 8, with his wife Mirka.
He told Guthrie he felt like his generation of tennis pros “had pushed tennis in the right direction.”
“And I think I did it my way. I’ve always stayed true to myself and people have always enjoyed watching me play, which I guess is the ultimate compliment.
The Associated Press contributed.