TENNIS

Federer says goodbye after 24 years of service

Highly rated athletes have been announcing their retirement from sports over the past few weeks and Roger Feder has left tennis fans crying after announcing that he was officially retiring from the game.

Switzerland's Roger Federer reacts after winning his Group play-off tennis match against Theimo de Bakker of the Netherlands at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva, Switzerland September 20, 2015.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

With over 24 years in the court and more than 1,500 games played, the 41-year-old Swiss is retiring with 20 (singles) Grand Slams won.

Born in Basel to Robert and Lynette, Federer tried playing other sports not knowing that tennis was his destiny. As a kid, Federer started off as a ball boy in his hometown before the birth of his dream to be like those players.

Federer’s winning mentality started at a young age when he won the Wimbledon boys’ singles titles. The young lad lifted the Orange Bowl in 1998 hence being ranked at No 1 in junior ranking.

As a dreamer, his breakthrough came in 2001 when he went up against his childhood hero Pete Sampras in a fourth-round match that was viewed by many people. Federer ended up winning 7-6 (9-7) 5-7 6-4 6-7 (7-2) 7-5 thus registering his name in the tennis podium.

"This match will give me as much confidence as I can get, this is the biggest win of my life.” Were his words after win.

Federer went on to win the Masters 1000 title in Hamburg which gave birth to the start of his Grand Slam dynasty.

Having never got past the quarter-finals in any Grand Slam, Roger Federer edged Mark Philippoussis 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 7-6 (7-3) in All England Club at the age of 21 years to win his first major title. He cried after the game and one thing was evident at the end of it all, a tennis star had been born!

"I proved it to everybody and it was a big relief because there was pressure from all sides, especially from myself, to do better in Slams, there is no guarantee of anything, but I knew I had the game and I have always believed in myself.

I kept my level up here in the semi-finals and the final and to lift the trophy is an absolute dream." He said in the post-match interview.

Federer made history in 2004 when he dominated the men’s tennis winning three Grand Slam titles a record held formerly by Mats Wilander in 1988. Federer was crowned the World’s No 1 title after thrashing Marat Safin 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 6-2 in a one-sided Australian Open final in Melbourne.

His early years in tennis indicated that he was to have a successful career and the foreshadow has to pass after pocketing several gold medals.

Full list of Grand Slam titles won by Roger Federer

2003: Wimbledon

2004: Australian Open

2004, Wimbledon

2004: US Open

2005: Wimbledon

2005: US Open

2006: Australian Open

2006: Wimbledon

2006: US Open

2007: Australian Open

2007: Wimbledon

2007: US Open

2008: US Open

2009: French Open

2009: Wimbledon

2010: Australian Open

2012: Wimbledon

2017: Australian Open

2017: Wimbledon

2018: Australian Open

Federer started to experience nightmares in his career after having continuous injuries which led to surgeries. He had another surgery in August in what he termed as the best move towards being healthy.

“I know it’s the right thing to do because I want to be healthy, I want to be running around later as well again and I want to give myself a glimmer of hope to return to the tour in some shape or form." Federer said.

The lights have been dimming his side since 2021 and he has not participated in any competitive Tour-level tennis court. He only returned to Centre Court for a standing ovation during the Centenary celebrations at this year's Wimbledon Championships.

"I've been lucky enough to play a lot of matches on this court," he said during the on-court ceremony. It's great to be here with all the other champions. This court has given me my biggest wins and my biggest losses.

“I hope I can come back here one more time,” he concluded.

“Above all I must offer a special thank you to my unbelievable fans. You will never know how much strength and belief you have given me. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart, to everyone around the world who has helped make the dreams of a young Swiss ball kid come true.” He said.

His final words were aimed at the sport of tennis. A sport that he will still cherish even as he retires. He dared to dream and the dream was realized in what he was able to achieve.

"To the game of tennis: I love you and will never leave you."

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