Roger Federer retirement bombshell rocks tennis world: 'So sad'

Roger Federer's retirement announcement has left the sporting world devastated. Pic: Getty
Roger Federer's retirement announcement has left the sporting world devastated. Pic: Getty

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.

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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.

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."

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.

Seen here, Roger Federer holds the 2017 Wimbledon trophy aloft.
Roger Federer won a staggering eight Wimbledon titles across his legendary career. Pic: Getty (Visionhaus via Getty Images)

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."

with AAP

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