September 21, 2023

Open Court


Roger Federer to retire at Laver Cup

(Photo: AELTC/ Florian Eisele)

There had been rumblings that despite his best efforts at rehabbing his knee, it wasn’t going particularly well for tennis legend Roger Federer.

Those rumblings turned out to be true, as the 41-year-old announced via social media Thursday morning that the Laver Cup would be the final event of his long and distinguished career.

That it is at an exhibition event and not an actual tournament is … what it is. But at least it will give him the opportunity to say goodbye properly, in a city that has been so good to him.

Here’s what he wrote.

(Okay, let’s all pause for a deep breath here. Because whether you’re a huge Federer fan or not, endings and goodbyes are always a reminder that none of us are getting any younger, and time is passing far too quickly).

Federer refers to the Laver Cup as an “ATP event”. Which, of course, it’s not.

It’s an exhibition tournament owned by his management company. And even if Federer had announced he would play Laver Cup and the ATP tournament in his hometown of Basel, there weren’t many who thought he would make it.

This announcement means that he won’t be saying adieu at home in Basel. Which would have been a perfect way to end it. And that tells you that the knee is … not good. And that we wouldn’t expect him to play a lot at Laver Cup.

But at least, he’ll be there.

Bittersweet goodbye to Centre Court

Federer’s moment on Centre Court at Wimbledon in July was extremely poignant, especially as he later said that he had hesitated about whether to be on hand for the tournament’s Centenary celebrations.

Perhaps he knew, even then, that it would be his last time on the Centre Court that brought him so many championships. And he was in civilian clothes, not in the required whites.

There will be plenty of tributes to the Swiss maestro in the coming days, no doubt. And lot of emotion at the O2 in London next weekend.

And a LOT of heartbroken fans. Even if they knew, intellectually, that this day would come – because it comes for everyone – the reality is a whole other thing.

And it tells another truth: even for the most elite, famous athlete, very rarely is the end a happy ending. It’s usually the body that tells them they must top.

And that has even proven true for Federer, an athlete who appeared to have a leg up on Father Time for so, so long.

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