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Federer Retires



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The timing hardly could be more symbolic: Within a span of two weeks, Serena Williams plays what is believed to be her last match at age 40, Roger Federer announces he’ll be retiring at 41, Iga Swiatek wins her third Grand Slam title at age 21, and Carlos Alcaraz gets his first at 19. A new generation of potential greats is emerging in the world of professional tennis as the former generation exits the courts.

There was much anxious handwringing in recent years as fans wondered whether the sport could survive losing its superstars. But tennis seems to be in good hands as it prepares to move on.

Williams made her retirement plans public last month. A recordholder with 20 Grand Slam titles to his name, Federer told the world on Thursday that he will exit the game after the Laver Cup next week.

Of Federer and Williams, Hall of Fame coach Nick Bollettieri says, “They helped mold tennis into what it is today. We will miss them.” But he continues, “Having these youngsters (Swiatek and Alcaraz) being No. 1 is going to make a big difference for the tours.”

Federer became a widely respected ambassador of the game. The Swiss athlete attracted fans and new players from around the globe—for more reasons than just his win statistics.

He played tennis with a style that only rarely betrayed the effort he put into his masterful serving and flawless footwork. He was not one to grunt loudly on shots or celebrate wildly after them.

For his long career, Federer wielded a racket in a way that helped him win—and also manage to avoid serious injuries as he built a record of consistent excellence. But on Thursday, a little more than a month past his 41st birthday and after a series of knee operations, the superstar and father-of-four (two sets of twins) announced that there would be no more comebacks.

“He was the epitome of a champion; class, grace, humility, beloved by everyone,” Hall of Famer Chris Evert wrote on Twitter.

In a goodbye post addressed to his competitors—namely Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic—he said, “We battled fairly, with passion and intensity, and I always tried my best to respect the history of the game. I feel extremely grateful. We pushed each other, and together we took tennis to new levels.”

(Switzerland’s Roger Federer holds the trophy after winning the Men’s Singles final match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London on July 16, 2017. Federer announced Thursday, that he is retiring from tennis. AP/Alastair Grant)