London: Roger Federer is known for his elegant style of play, for his longevity, for his 20 Grand Slam titles, and for occasional tears in his most emotional post-match moments, whether after victory or defeat. There was none of that sort of sadness on Wednesday (September 21), just smiles and some chuckles at his own jokes, as Federer appeared at a news conference to discuss his retirement from professional tennis at age 41 after a series of knee operations. He will close his career with a doubles match at the Laver Cup on Friday, perhaps alongside longtime rival Rafael Nadal.
Federer said he is now at peace with the decision to walk away, which comes a few weeks after Serena Williams played what is expected to be her last match at the U.S. Open, and he wants this farewell to be a celebration.
“I really don’t want it to be a funeral,” Federer said.
“I want it to be really happy and powerful and party mode.”
Wearing a blue blazer with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and a white polo shirt, Federer took questions for about a half-hour at the arena that will host the team competition founded by his management company.
“I’m nervous going in, because I haven’t played in so long,” he said.
“I hope I can be somewhat competitive.”
Federer, who announced last week via social media that he would be retiring after the Laver Cup, said it took him a bit to get used to the idea of stepping away from competition.
But it was something he understood he needed to do after running into setbacks in July during his rehabilitation from what was his third surgery on his right knee in about 1 1/2 years.
“You try to go to the next level in training, and I could feel it was getting difficult. … Then, I guess, I was also getting more tired, because you have to put more effort into it to be able to sort of believe that it was going to turn around. You start getting too pessimistic. Then I also got a scan back, which wasn’t what I wanted it to be,” Federer explained.
“At some point, you sit down and go, OK, we are at an intersection here, at a crossroad, and you have to take a turn. Which way is it?’ I was not willing to go into the direction of:
‘Let’s risk it all.’ I’m not ready for that. I always said that was never my goal.?”
And the hardest part came when he knew he needed to stop.
“You’re sad,” Federer said, “in the very moment when you realize, OK, this is the end.”