Roger Federer has left the sporting world devastated after calling time on his extraordinary tennis career.
The 20-time grand slam winner - who has been battling to return from a series of knee operations - made the sad announcement on social media.
Federer described it as a "bittersweet decision" in his social media message, which comes less than a week after 23-time major champion Serena Williams played what is expected to the last match of her career.
Combined, the exits by two of the greatest athletes in their sport's history represent the sad of an era and significant turning of the page.
To my tennis family and beyond,
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 15, 2022
Federer will finish his astonishing career third on the all-time list of men's grand slams behind great rivals Rafael Nadal (22) and Novak Djokovic (21).
The Swiss maestro finished five seasons ranked No.1 and helped create a golden era of men's tennis as part of the 'Big Four' alongside Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray.
"As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries. I've worked hard to return to full competitive form," Federer wrote on Twitter.
"But I also know my body's capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear."
The news brought emotional tributes from the sport's greats, headed by Nadal, who said: "I wish this day would have never come.
"It's a sad day for me personally and for sports people around the world.
"I said it to you when we spoke and now it's here. It's been a pleasure but also an honour and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court."
— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 15, 2022
He was the epitome of a champion; class, grace, humility, beloved by everyone…and he elegantly mastered the sport like no other…Good luck to you, @rogerfederer don’t go too far!😉🙏
— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) September 15, 2022
Dear Roger,my friend and rival.
I wish this day would have never come. It’s a sad day for me personally and for sports around the world.
It’s been a pleasure but also an honor and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court 👇🏻
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) September 15, 2022
We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still lots of things to do together, we know that.
For now, I truly wish you all the happiness with your wife, Mirka, your kids, your family and enjoy what’s ahead of you. I’ll see you in London @LaverCup
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) September 15, 2022
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) September 15, 2022
— Rohit Sharma (@ImRo45) September 15, 2022
— Jannik Sinner (@janniksin) September 15, 2022
BREAKING: Roger Federer is retiring from tennis. For me, he’s the greatest, and classiest, to ever play the game. A genius. Thanks for all the entertainment @rogerfederer 👍👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/7y4VN5Yv45
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 15, 2022
What a career, @rogerfederer. We fell in love with your brand of tennis. Slowly, your tennis became a habit. And habits never retire, they become a part of us.
Thank you for all the wonderful memories. pic.twitter.com/FFEFWGLxKR
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) September 15, 2022
🚨 Roger Federer announces his retirement 🚨
So sad news for Tennis world: the Maestro has officialised that he will not play Grand Slam tournaments anymore. The Laver Cup will be his last tennis event...
The dreaded moment has arrived 😥 pic.twitter.com/Bp7W8qmYVi
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) September 15, 2022
I’ve seen the video. I’ve read the letter. I’m gutted, I’m heartbroken. But I’m absolutely blessed to have watched you play tennis. Watching you was my main hobby for the last decade. Whether it was 7 pm or 430 am. Always ready for you. I love you Federer! You’re my biggest idol! https://t.co/Vh1lDD3udm
— SRF (@S_RF_CA) September 15, 2022
While Federer's news is devastating for fans around the world, it is not entirely surprising, with his last match coming at Wimbledon in 2021.
Federer did appear at an event marking the 100-year anniversary of Centre Court at the All England Club this July and said he hoped to come back to play there "one more time."
He also had said he would return to tournament action in his home country at the Swiss Indoors in October.
Laver Cup to be Roger Federer's final event
In Thursday's announcement, Federer said his farewell event will be the Laver Cup in London next week.
Federer and his wife Mirka - who met as fellow tennis players before competing at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games — have two sets of twins.
He leaves with a total of 103 tour-level titles and 1251 wins in singles matches, both second only to Jimmy Connors in the Open era, which began in 1968.
His many 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, the men's record for most was held by Pete Sampras, who had won his 14th at the US Open the year before in what turned out to be the last match of the American's 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 equalled, 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.
"Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt ... and now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career."
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