Roger Federer has ended his professional tennis career, tearfully saying he “would do it all over again” after losing a doubles match at the Laver Cup in London.
The Swiss tennis great delivered an emotional farewell speech in the early morning hours Saturday local time after losing a doubles match with longtime rival Rafael Nadal of Spain to Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe. The final match for the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion came after Federer, 41, earlier signaled he would retire from the sport.
“It’s been a wonderful day,” Federer said, during a postgame interview on the court. “I told the guys, ‘I’m happy; I’m not sad.’ So it feels great to be here.”
As the crowd cheered, Federer recalled he didn’t particularly feel stressed as he tied his shoes and performed all the other rituals that come with the match one last time.
Federer expressed gratitude to be finishing his career in a doubles match, saying he “didn’t want it to feel lonely out there” and that he “always felt that I was a team player at heart.” He also said he was happy he made it through the match without an injury.
Federer announced this month he would retire after a storied career that included more than 1,500 matches, saying he was making the “bittersweet” decision to exit the sport after listening to his body’s message.
Making his professional debut at age 16 in 1998, Federer went on to dominate men’s tennis along with Nadal and Novak Djokovic, dubbed the “Big Three.” Along the way, he won the third-most men’s Grand Slam singles championships with his 20 titles, trailing only Nadal with 22 and Djokovic with 21. Federer holds the men’s record for Wimbledon singles championships with eight.
During his post-match interview, Federer said his journey to becoming a tennis icon “was never supposed to be that way” and something he fell into out of his love of the sport.
“I was just happy to play tennis and spend time with my friends, really,” he said. “It ended here. It’s been a perfect journey. I would do it all over again.”
Federer noted that his two boys and two girls were in the crowd, and his wife, Miroslava Federer, who he said supported him even after she could’ve “stopped me a long, long time ago.”
“But she didn’t,” said Federer, who began tearing up. “She kept me going and allowed me to play. It’s amazing. Thank you.”
After his interview, a video of Nadal, who was also emotional, appeared online.
“Your greatest rival is crying with you!” Mahfuz Salekin said in a tweet. “Speaks up the magnitude of his legendary career!”
The post Tearful Roger Federer Bids Tennis Farewell: ‘It’s Been a Perfect Journey’ appeared first on Newsweek.