Serena Williams paid tribute to fellow tennis great Roger Federer as she welcomed him to the ‘retirement club’.
Federer announced on Thursday that he will retire from the sport at the age of 41, with the last tournament of his illustrious career to be the Laver Cup in London, scheduled to be held at the O2 Arena next weekend.
Williams also brought the curtain down on a glittering career this month as she played her final singles match at the US Open, where she was knocked out in the third round by Australian Alja Tomljanovic.
As a golden era of tennis comes to an end with two of the sport’s biggest stars in both the men’s and women’s game retiring, Williams paid tribute to her fellow GOAT following his announcement.
Taking to Instagram, the 23-time Grand Slam winner applauded Federer, claiming he had inspired her and ‘countless’ others.
She wrote: ‘I wanted to find the perfect way to say this, as you so eloquently put this game to rest – perfectly done, just like your career.
Serena Williams paid tribute to Roger Federer as she welcomed him to the ‘retirement club’
The American took to Instagram to applaud her fellow tennis legend after his announcement
The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced his retirement from competitive tennis at age 41
‘I have always looked up to you and admired you. Our paths were always so similar, so much the same.
‘You inspired countless millions and millions of people – including me – and we will never forget.
‘I applaud you and look forward to all that you do in the future. Welcome to the retirement club. And thank you for being you @rogerfederer.’
Williams continued her tribute as she also posted to her Instagram story, wishing the Swiss maestro the best.
In her post, Williams claimed the Swiss maestro had inspired her and ‘countless’ others
‘@rogerfederer Thank you for all you’ve contributed and beyond. I will miss your face on tour. Best of luck in your next chapter. Retirement just got the GOAT.’
Federer’s last appearance came at last year’s Wimbledon, where he reached the quarter-finals. His final Grand Slam triumph was at the 2018 Australian Open, when, aged 36, he became the second-oldest man to win a major singles title in the Open era.
He claimed 103 singles titles on the ATP tour and was world number one for 237 consecutive weeks between February 2004 and August 2008, which remains a record.
Federer’s decision follows a turbulent period for the Swiss star, who has undergone three knee surgeries in a desperate attempt to return to his former glories.
His injuries have limited his appearances on tour and he has played in just three of the 11 Grand Slams staged since the start of 2020.
Federer is set to feature in exhibition matches but the Laver Cup, where he will represent Team Europe, will be his last competition on the ATP tour.
Singles titles: 103
Grand Slam titles: 20
Highest ranking: 1 (for a total of 310 weeks)
Davis Cups: 1 (2004)
Hopman Cups: 3 (2001, 2018, 2019)
Olympic medals: 2 (doubles gold 2008, singles silver 2012)
‘To my tennis family and beyond, of all the gifts that tennis has given me over the years, the greatest, without a doubt, has been the people I’ve met along the way: my friends, my competitors, and most of all the fans who give the sport its life,’ Federer said.
‘Today, I want to share some news with all of you. As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries.
‘I’ve worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body’s capacity and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear.
‘I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years. 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.
‘The Laver Cup in London next week will be my final ATP event. I will play more tennis in the future, of course, but just not in Grand Slams or on the tour.
‘This is a bittersweet decision, because I will miss everything the tour has given me.
‘But at the same time, there is so much to celebrate. I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on Earth. I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level that I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible.’
The Swiss star will wave goodbye to the sport when he plays at next week’s Laver Cup
Federer thanked his wife, Mirka, his coaches, his fans and everyone who has been involved in his stellar career.
He also paid tribute to his fellow competitors, such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – who lead the all-time Grand Slam standings with 22 and 21, respectively.
Nadal was one of the many members of the tennis community to salute Federer as he said news of his retirement is ‘a sad day for me personally and for sports around the world’.
The retirements of both Federer and Williams represent the beginning of tennis’ shift to the next generation of stars with the last Grand Slam of the year, the US Open, being one by two players early in their careers – Iga Swiatek, who won her third career major, and 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, who won his first.
TRIBUTES TO ROGER FEDERER FROM THE WORLD OF TENNIS
Billie Jean King: ‘Roger Federer is a champion’s champion. He has the most complete game of his generation & captured the hearts of sports fans around the world with an amazing quickness on the court & a powerful tennis mind. He has had a historic career w/memories that will live on and on.
‘Congratulations @rogerfederer. We wish you the very best as your journey continues.’
Judy Murray: ‘The end of a magnificent era’.
ATP Tour: ‘You changed the game’.
Milos Raonic: ‘Roger, thank you for doing more for tennis than any single individual. 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.’
Petra Kvitova: ‘Roger – you have always been such a huge inspiration to me. Your elegance, your grace, your beautiful game. I have always held you in the highest regard and want to congratulate you for an amazing career. Tennis won’t be the same without you! Thank you’.
Wimbledon: ‘Roger, Where do we begin? 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.’
Carlos Alcaraz: Roger…(with a broken heart emoji)
‘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!
US Open: Thank you, Roger.
Juan Martin del Potro: ‘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.’
Roland Garros: An inspiration on and off the court. Thank you, Roger.
Rod Laver: Thank you for everything Roger. See you soon. Rocket.
Genie Bouchard: Roger (with three crying emojis).
Martina Navratilova: ‘What a heartfelt message , full of love, life, hope, passion and gratitude. Which is exactly how Roger played the game we love so much. Thank you thank you thank you, for all the magic!!! Xoxoxo’.
Jessica Pegula: Tearing up just listening to this. We love you Roger.
Andy Roddick: Cheers Roger. Thanks for the shared memories my friend. It was an honor to share time/experiences on the most hallowed grounds in our sport. Don’t be a stranger….
Denis Shapovalov: A role model for me and so many others!! Thanks for everything Roger. It’s been a privilege to share the court with you!!.