As he has done so many times before, Roger Federer stepped onto center court at Wimbledon.
But wearing a suit and tie, rather than traditional Wimbledon whites, the 40-year-old attended the tournament’s centenary celebration on center court on Sunday. Predictably, it received a raucous reception from fans.
“This ground has given me my biggest wins and my biggest losses. I hope I can come back one more time,” said Federer, absent from this year’s main draw for the first time since 1998 due to a injury, to the crowd.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who turns 41 next month, was among a number of former winners who took part in a parade around the famous arena.
He last played at Wimbledon in 2021, suffering a shock loss to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals, and has not played competitively since that loss as he underwent another knee surgery, his third since 2020, shortly after.
“I missed it here. I knew walking here last year was going to be a tough year ahead. I maybe didn’t think it was going to take this long to come back – the knee was hard on me,” he said.
During his illustrious career, Federer has become synonymous with Wimbledon.
He heralded his arrival as a world-class player in 2001, knocking out the great Pete Sampras, and went on to dominate at the peak of his powers, winning it eight times.
“I had the chance to play a lot of games on this ground,” he added. “It’s awkward to be here in another type of role. It’s great to be here with all the other champions.
The Swiss great is preparing for his comeback, confirming earlier this year that he will play at the Laver Cup in September and the Swiss Indoors tournament in Basel, Switzerland in October.
“It’s been a good year, regardless of tennis…I’m happy to be here right now,” he said.