Roger Federer is retiring from professional tennis at age 41 after a series of knee operations, closing a career in which he won 20 Grand Slam titles, finished five seasons ranked No. 1 and helped create a golden era of men’s tennis with rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
“As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries,” Federer said Thursday in a post on his social media accounts. “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 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.”
To my tennis family and beyond,
—Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 15, 2022
Federer’s 20 Grand Slam titles rank third all time among men’s players behind only contemporaries Nadal (22) and Djokovic (21).
Federer said he intends to keep playing tennis, “but just not in Grand Slams or on the tour.” He had not played a competitive match since reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2021 and announced in mid-August that he had undergone another knee surgery.
But he had appeared at an event marking the 100th anniversary of Center Court at the All England Club in July and said he hoped to come back to play there “one more time.” He also had said he would return to tournament action at the Swiss Indoors in October.
“This is a bittersweet decision, because I will miss everything the tour has given me,” Federer said. “But at the same time, there is so much to celebrate. I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on Earth. 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.”
Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray are set to play together for the first time when they compete Sept. 23-25 as part of Team Europe at the Laver Cup in London. Named after Australian great Rod Laver, the three-day team event, which is run by Federer’s management company, pits six of Europe’s top players against six from the rest of the world.
Federer leaves with 103 tour-level titles on his substantial résumé and 1,251 wins in singles matches, both second only to Jimmy Connors in the Open era, which began in 1968. Federer’s records include being the oldest No. 1 in ATP rankings history — he returned to the top spot at 36 in 2018 — and most consecutive weeks there; his total-weeks mark was eclipsed by Djokovic.
When Federer won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, Pete Sampras held the men’s record for titles; the American had won his 14th at the US Open the year before in what turned out to be the final match of his career.
Federer would go on to blow way past that, ending up with 20 by winning eight championships at Wimbledon, six at the Australian Open, five at the US Open and one at the French Open. His 2009 trophy at Roland Garros allowed Federer to complete a career Grand Slam.
His serving, forehand, footwork and attacking style will all be remembered. Also unforgettable were his matches against younger rivals Nadal, 36, and Djokovic, 35, who both equaled, then surpassed, Federer’s Slam total and are still winning titles at the sport’s four biggest tournaments.
“I was lucky enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget,” Federer said in Thursday’s announcement. Addressing his “competitors on the court,” although not by name, he wrote: “We pushed each other, and together we took tennis to new levels.”
Federer and his wife, Mirka — a tennis player too; they met as athletes at an Olympics — have two sets of twins.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.