Roger Federer retires: Rafael Nadal and Virat Kohli among sporting legends paying tribute to tennis icon

The inevitability of Roger Federer’s imminent retirement has done little to dilute the strength of emotion felt by the tennis icon’s peers and admirers as he brings his spectacular career to a close.

Describing his “bittersweet decision” and praising his “unbelievable” fans, the 41-year-old confirmed on September 15, 2022, that he will not be adding to his 20 Grand Slam titles after injuries took their toll on his body’s “capacities and limits”.

“Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career,” said Federer, adding that the Laver Cup next month will be his final ATP event.

From organisers and some of the stars who have taken on Federer to cricketers and commentators, here are some of the reactions to the news.

MORE: Roger Federer announces retirement: Tennis legend explains decision to step away

‘Where do we begin?’

Federer won the US Open six times and the Australian Open on five occasions, but it was at Wimbledon where he prospered most, winning five successive titles between 2003 and 2007 on his way to a record eight triumphs — still the most by any male player.

“It’s been a privilege to witness your journey and see you become a champion in every sense of the word,” organisers at SW19 responded within minutes of their most decorated male participant’s retirement.

The US Open publicly thanked Federer and Roland-Garros responded with a heart, while key organisations showed their respect, including the International Tennis Federation, which shared footage of him chatting on court to fellow legend Serena Williams.

The ATP shared a photo of Federer on his knees with emotion on court, adding: “Us right now.”

“Thank you for what you gave to the game and to the world,” said the WTA, responding to the ATP’s assessment that Federer “changed the game”. “We’ll miss seeing you around.”

‘You crushed me’

Perhaps James Blake shouldn’t be so hard on himself. Not many players have beaten Federer in straight sets, as the former world number four did at the 2008 Olympic Games, and the American is not alone in having a poor wider record against a man who beat most players on the other side of the net.

“Roger, there was and never will be anyone like you,” Blake said, reflecting on his run of one win in 11 matches against Federer.

“You crushed me on the court but were so nice and genuine that I couldn’t hate you for it.  You made the game better on and off the court and you will be missed.”

Rafael Nadal joined Federer and Novak Djokovic as the three titans of tennis as the 21st century developed, and fans had been keenly anticipating the Spaniard’s response to the news.

The 36-year-old moved two Grand Slam titles ahead of Federer by winning the Australian Open and French Open earlier this year, while Djokovic is one behind Nadal.

“Dear Roger, my friend and rival,” Nadal told Federer and his millions of fans. “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. I’ll see you in London.”

Nadal won 24 of his 40 matches against Federer, and Milos Raonic can always say he beat Federer in a final, becoming champion at the 2016 Brisbane International on his way to a record of three victories in 14 meetings with him.

“Thank you for doing more for tennis than any single individual,” said Raonic.

“Thanks to you competitors and fans across the world get to experience and enjoy it all over the world. Congratulations on your achievements and the people you continue to impact in and away from tennis.”

World number 24 Denis Shapovalov hailed Federer as “a role model for me and so many others.”

“Thanks for everything, Roger,” said Shapovalov, recalling his defeat to Federer in Miami in their only match against each other. “It’s been a privilege to share the court with you.”

Stan Wawrinka, who recorded three wins in 26 attempts against Federer, shared a set of emojis indicating his estimation of his familiar nemesis as the greatest player ever, while two-time Grand Slam title winner and former world number one Garbine Muguruza shared a photo of herself having fun with Federer on a court in front of a costumed character.

‘The greatest of all time’

Federer’s achievements and sphere of influence extend well beyond tennis. Cricket superstar Virat Kohli shared a photo of himself with the forthcoming retiree.

“The greatest of all time,” India talisman Kohli told Federer. “King Roger.”

Former England international Monty Panesar agreed. “The Rolls-Royce of tennis,” he said, calling Federer the greatest of all time.

FC Basel – Champions League representatives of Federer’s homeland – anointed their compatriot “the undisputed king of tennis.”

“Thank you for the incredible memories in your outstanding career,” they told him. “Forever one of us.”

Cricket commentator Harsha Bogle told his following of almost nine million: “It was inevitable and it has happened. But what joy while it lasted.

“Tennis, and all sport, will say a huge thank you to Roger Federer. He played with our emotions as much as he played against the opponent.”

La Liga side and former Champions League finalists Valencia said Federer was a “legend” who had given sport “so many unforgettable moments.”

2014 World Cup winner Jerome Boateng will be watching Federer’s final competitive appearance.

“Thanks for all the moments and memories and what you did for tennis over the last two decades and more,” said the former Germany midfielder.

“Another definition of the greatest of all time. Looking forward to seeing you one last time.”

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