the fond farewell of an entire sport to its champion Roger Federer

With 103 ATP Tour titles, including 20 Grand Slams, 310 weeks at the top of the rankings, including 237 in a row during his longest reign, the imprint of “king” Federer on tennis is nowhere near fading

A huge thrill went through the O2 Arena and its 17,000 spectators when he took to the court for the last time as a professional tennis player. It was the applause and tears – himself, his family, his friends, his admirers, and even Rafael Nadal – that he left behind.

AP Photo/Kin Cheung”/>

I will remember faces and emotions“A few years from now, thinking about this night, the Swiss confessed after the match against the Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.

Troubled by his right knee for too long and facing a lack of sufficient progress revealed by a scanner a few weeks ago, he ended up announcing his irreversible departure eight days ago.

He chose the Laver Cup, a team match between Europe and the Rest of the World, which he helped create, in London, a city that witnessed some of his greatest exploits at Wimbledon or the Masters, to earn his respect .

I thought about doing this a month ago, but I just thought, if I need it, here it is“, he explained.

AP Photo/Kin Cheung

After almost a year and a half without playing, he “enjoyed” a double, an exercise where his quality of service, his touch and his eye still work wonders.

It also allowed him to surround himself with a team, and what a team! He had by his side Nadal, his one-night partner, but also Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, two players of his generation and he saw progress until they challenged his superiority and even overtook him, as well as next generation, represented by Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini, who will replace him for the rest of the Laver Cup.

“just a moment in my life”

The presence on the bench of Björn Borg, as captain, as well as of John McEnroe at the Rest of the World and of Rod Laver, the first player to win four Grand Slams twice in one calendar year and for whom the competition gives tribute, did not look out of place in this tennis celebration.

The Laver Cup formula, which allows the whole team to approach the players at side changes to give advice or encouragement, has created a very friendly atmosphere.

AP Photo/Kin Cheung

And if the match itself sometimes looks like an exhibition, not playing it to the fullest is almost a crime of lèse-majesté.

We’ll take advantage of the moment but we won’t hold back, sorry Roger“, warned Sock before the match.

Despite some limitations, Federer responded. It was with a winning forehand volley that he offered his team the first set of balls, winning one of his passes that Sock couldn’t return (6-4), to the delight of the public. .

To be honest, I was surprised that I played well tonight, and I just enjoyed it. It was great from start to finish.”he assured.

The second set, lost in a tie-break (7-2), offered a dramatic epilogue with an intense crossover in the super final tie-break. Federer held serve for the match at 9-8, but in the end it was the Americans who spoiled the party a bit as they eventually won 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 11-9.

His lifelong rival, Rafael Nadal, was also in tears<br /> AP Photo/Kin Cheung”/><span rel=

In view of the incredible career and the importance that he will have in the evolution of this sport in the 21st century, this defeat is an event and he himself said that he is ready for his new life that began in London night.

What scared me the most was talking on the microphone (…) because I know how impossible I am when I’m too emotional.“, he admitted.

But I was able to think (…) how beautiful that day was, that it wasn’t the end, that life goes on, I’m healthy, happy, everything is fine, it’s just a moment in my life“, he added, modestly, facing a historic day for tennis and even sport.

A heartwarming tribute to his wife

It’s a great day, I told the guys I’m happy, I’m not sad, it’s great to be here“, he assured, despite his bright eyes.

I wasn’t too stressed“, he assured, even though, after a year and a half of not playing and with a right knee that forced him to retire, at the age of 41, he was afraid “a calf glitch or a locked back during the game, so I’m glad I finished it“, despite losing 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 9-11, in doubles with his rival and friend Rafael Nadal, against Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, for Laver Cup, an annual match between Europe and the Rest of the World, which he helped create.

Reflecting on his extraordinary journey, he assured that he “will start again without changes“.

Roger Federer with his wife, Mirka Federer and their children<br /> AP Photo/Kin Cheung”/><span rel=

It doesn’t have to be like this, I just like to play tennis and hang out with my friends. I didn’t think it would end here, it’s been a perfect course“.

The hardest thing for him was to talk about his family who were present in the stands.

Do we really have to go through this?” he asked before changing his mind + “no, it’s okay, I’m not doing anything wrong so far, I feel, at least I can talk.“, he joked.

He notably paid tribute to his wife, Mirka, whom he met 22 years ago, who “so supported“.

He would have stopped me a long time ago. But he didn’t, he let me go and let me go on, it was amazing, thank you“, he managed to get through before sighing.

AP Photo/Kin Cheung

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