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Roger Federer waves as he holds up the 2013 "Fans' Favourite" trophy awarded to him at the ATP World Tour Finals. Image Credit: AP

Geneva: Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer is to retire after next week’s Laver Cup after admitting on Thursday his battles with a knee problem had forced him to call time on his historic career.

“The Laver Cup next week in London will be my final ATP event,” he said in a statement posted on social media.

Wimbledon paid him a handsome tribute in keeping with him being a record eight-time champion in the only Slam played on grass. “Roger, Where do we begin?” tweeted Wimbledon.

Memories and joy

“It’s been a privilege to witness your journey and see you become a champion in every sense of the word.

“We will so miss the sight of you gracing our courts, but all we can say for now is thank you, for the memories and joy you have given to so many.”

Switzerland tennis thanked its ace following his retirement. “Thank you Roger Federer for everything you have done for Swiss and international tennis, for all the countless emotions we were able to share with you, for every child you inspired to play tennis!”

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Switzerland’s Roger Federer holding up the Wimbledon Championships trophy after winning each of his eight men’s singles titles. Image Credit: AFP

One of my idols, says Alcaraz

Teenager Carlos Alcaraz, the coming man in tennis having won the US Open last Sunday to become the youngest ever world No 1, paid tribute to him as well with a broken heart emoji on Twitter.

“Roger has been one of my idols and a source of inspiration! Thank you for everything you have done for our sport! I still want to play with you! Wish you all the luck in the world for what comes next!,” Alcaraz said.

The Laver Cup team event in London will also give him a final chance to play competitively as part of the “Big Four”, who dominated tennis over the past two decades.

Nadal: Sad day for me

Rafael Nadal, who holds the record for Grand Slam titles with 22; Novak Djokovic, who has won 21 Grand Slam crowns; and two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray will all play together as part of Team Europe.

“I wish this day would have never come. It’s a sad day for me personally and for sports around the world. 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.

“We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still lots of things to do together, we know that. For now, I truly wish you all the happiness with your wife, Mirka, your kids, your family and enjoy what’s ahead of you,” Nadal said.

Timeline of Roger Federer's journey to the top
2001: Burst onto the scene, ending American Pete Sampras' 31-match winning streak at Wimbledon in the fourth round before losing in the quarter-finals to Tim Henman.
2002: Became the first Swiss man to finish in the top 10 and appear in the season-ending ATP Finals since Jakob Hlasek was number eight in 1988.
2003: Made his Grand Slam breakthrough the following year at Wimbledon, beating Mark Philippoussis in the final for the first of his eight titles at the grasscourt major.
2004: The Swiss flexed his muscles by winning three majors -- the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, making him the first man to do so in a season since Mats Wilander in 1988.
He also became the first player in the Open Era to win his first four Grand Slam finals.
2005: Defended Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles after failing to reach the finals in the first two majors of the year.
2006: Reached all four Grand Slam finals, winning in Australia, Wimbledon and the U.S. among a haul of 12 titles and a 92-5 win-loss record. Finished top of the ATP rankings for a third straight year.
2007: Became the first player in history to reach all four Grand Slam finals in back-to-back years, winning at Melbourne Park, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.
2008: Extended his run of winning at least one Grand Slam title to six straight years by capturing the U.S. Open crown in a season hampered by illness and injury.
Won an Olympic men's doubles gold medal with Stan Wawrinka at the Beijing Games.
2009: Captured his only French Open crown after great rival Rafa Nadal's 31-match winning streak at Roland Garros ended in the fourth round. Won his 15th major at Wimbledon, surpassing Sampras' record tally.
2010: Started the year by winning the Australian Open for a fourth time before a lean spell on the big stage.
2012: Won a record-extending 17th major at Wimbledon and also claimed the silver medal in men's singles at the 2012 London Games, losing to Andy Murray.
2013: Struggled with a back injury and failed to add to his Grand Slam tally until 2017.
2017: Came back from a six-month injury layoff to win the Australian Open and at 35, became the oldest player to claim a Grand Slam title since Australia's Ken Rosewall won at Melbourne Park in 1972 at the age of 37.
Became the first man to win Wimbledon eight times with victory over Marin Cilic in the final.
2018: Won his sixth Australian Open to become only the fourth player after Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf to win 20 or more major singles titles.
Victory helped him equal Rod Laver's record of claiming four majors after turning 30.
2022: After multiple knee surgeries in recent years, Federer announced that he will retire from competitive tennis.

Andy Roddick, who lost the 2009 Wimbledon final to Federer, said: “Cheers Roger. Thanks for the shared memories my friend. It was an honour to share time/experiences on the most hallowed grounds in our sport. Don’t be a stranger.

“Also, seems like a good time to start training for Wimby (Obviously kidding).”

Extremely grateful

Federer paid tribute to them too.

“I was lucky enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget,” 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.”

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Bellie Jean King says Federer has the most complete game of his generation and captured the hearts of sports fans around the world. Image Credit: AP

Champion's champion

Billie Jean King, former women’s No 1 said: “Roger Federer is a champion’s champion. He has the most complete game of his generation and captured the hearts of sports fans around the world with an amazing quickness on the court and a powerful tennis mind.

“He has had a historic career with memories that will live on and on. Congratulations Roger Federer. We wish you the very best as your journey continues.”

Federer had said back in July he hoped to play one more Wimbledon. He departs with regrets but added that he had lived a life that many would envy.

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Federer leaves with a regret that he could not play at the Wimbledon in July this year. Image Credit: AFP

Grace, elegance and poise

“This is a bittersweet decision because I will miss everything the tour has given me,” added Federer. “But, at the same time, there is so much to celebrate.

“I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on Earth.”

Scott Lloyd, Lawn Tennis Association CEO, said: “He will retire as one of the legends of the game, who brought joy to anyone who watches tennis. Nobody who saw him play will forget his grace, elegance and poise on court.

Tendulkar loves Federer's tennis

“We were lucky that many of his greatest performances took place at Wimbledon, and he will always remain a favourite of the British crowds.”

Former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro said: “I LOVE YOU, Roger. Thank you for everything you’ve done in tennis and with myself. Tennis world will never be the same without you.”

“What a career, Roger Federer. We fell in love with your brand of tennis. Slowly, your tennis became a habit. And habits never retire, they become a part of us. Thank you for all the wonderful memories,” Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar said.