Roger Federer has sent tennis fans into a frenzy after revealing he wants to play at Wimbledon one final time before his storied career ends.
The 20-time grand slam champion hasn't played since undergoing a third knee surgery after Wimbledon last year following his loss in the fourth round.
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He was slowly been working his way back to full fitness and has committed to playing the Laver Cup in September and the Swiss Indoors in Basel in October.
However Federer has now given the first indication that he wants to keep playing into 2023.
The 40-year-old made an appearance at Wimbledon on Sunday for the traditional parade of champions and announced to the crowd that he's hoping to play at the grass-court grand slam in 2023.
“I hope I can come back one more time. I’ve missed it here," he said.
"Of course I've missed being here. I would have loved to be here. I knew walking out here last year, it was going to be a tough year ahead.
"Maybe didn't think it was going to take me this long to come back. But the knee has been rough on me.
"I didn't know if I should make the trip, but I'm happy standing right here, right now."
Federer was greeted with a deafening roar when he was the last of the former champions including Australian greats Margaret Court, Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Pat Cash and Lleyton Hewitt to parade on to centre court on Sunday.
"Just tried to be successful here and represent the sport well. I hope I did that and I hope I can come back ... one more time," he said.
The Swiss maestro had surgery last year to repair damage to his meniscus and cartilage in his right knee - his third operation on that knee in 18 months.
"I've been lucky enough to play a lot of matches on this court. Feels awkward to be here today in a different type of role," said Federer, who had participated in every Wimbledon since his main-draw debut in 1999.
"But it's great to be here with ... all the other champions. This court has given me my biggest wins, my biggest losses."
My god I wasn’t expecting to get emotional watching that 100 year celebration of Wimbledon on centre court 😢When Federer came out 😭😭#Wimbledon2022
— Emma (@emlawrance) July 3, 2022
I missed @rogerfederer at @Wimbledon, we didn't get to see him play, but at least we had the pleasure of seeing him present on Center Court. We hope to see you next year 🤗 #Wimbledon https://t.co/j551d8WlnZ
— Laura C. #UndisputedERA4ever🤘🏼🖤💛🤘🏼 (@LauraC10) July 3, 2022
#FedEx is back where he belongs—at Wimbledon, Centre Court—albeit in a different avatar. Here’s wishing Roger Federer a speedy rehab so that we get to see him play here next year! pic.twitter.com/PjDkxeDtL6
— t2 (@t2telegraph) July 3, 2022
Words can't describe how much I admire and respect Roger Federer.
In my eyes the greatest player ever in his Sport and one of the finest Sportspersons of all time.
One more visit to Wimbledon next year GOAT.
One more time...#Wimbledon#Wimbledon2022 pic.twitter.com/EsXsotfhve
— RyanC (@AnotherLeedsFan) July 3, 2022
— Sourabh Suman (@Imsourabhsuman) July 3, 2022
Hoping to see Federer back on court next year 🤞 https://t.co/fcA8TMKwpS
— Hannah (@HanLovesToRead) July 3, 2022
— Dr. Derek Price, DBA (@DrDerekPriceDBA) July 3, 2022
Wimbledon pays tribute to former champions
While retired reigning women's champion Ash Barty and her Australian idol Evonne Goolagong were conspicuously absent, Federer was among more than two dozen Wimbledon singles winners to appear at a 35-minute tribute for the 100th anniversary of Wimbledon's centre court.
Past champions still playing this year included Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Simona Halep in singles, as well as Venus Williams in mixed doubles.
“I feel more nervous now than when I’m playing,” Djokovic said before his match against Tim van Rijthoven.
“This court has been truly special from my childhood and the first image of tennis I’ve seen, when I was four or five years old I saw Pete Sampras winning his first Wimbledon.
“This is where dreams come true and I was blessed in 2011, probably the highlight of my career, to win the tournament and so when I step out on this court I relive these memories. Truly an honour.”
Andy Murray, whose 2013 Wimbledon singles trophy was the first for a British man in 77 years, Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova were other active players present.
Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Stefan Edberg and Goran Ivanisevic were others on hand from yesteryear.
Others absent like Barty - tied up playing exhibition golf in the US - were Martina Navratilova, who tested positive for Covid-19 and wrote on Twitter she was "gutted" to miss the occasion, as well as Serena Williams and Pete Sampras.
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