Roger Federer said goodbye to pro tennis Friday night at London’s Laver Cup with his longtime competitor-turned-doubles-partner Rafael Nadal.
Federer, who has not competed in 15 months, and Nadal lost to Americans Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock, with a final score of 4-6, 7-6 (2), 11-9.
Following the match, Federer, the Swiss tennis legend and 20-time Grand Slam winner, appeared to tear up and waved to the cheering crowd, mouthing “Thank you.”
“It’s been a perfect journey,” Federer said. “I would do it all over again.”
During the concluding moments of the more than two-hour long match that stretched past midnight, spectators chanted “Let’s go, Roger! Let’s go!”
Later, he was pictured with his team, wiping his eyes.
Federer announced last week that this tournament would be his last as a competitor. He had said previously. he wanted this to be more of a party than a funeral, the Associated Press reported, so fans came out in droves to celebrate.
Hours before Friday’s match, Federer tweeted: “I’ve done this thousands of times, but this one feels different. Thank you to everybody who’s coming tonight.”
Federer’s last singles game was his loss in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in July 2021. His right knee has been injured several times throughout the career and his final of three operations followed that final singles match.
He took time off — more than a year — but told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie on Sept. 16 that he realized it was time to retire.
“When I came back from vacation I could really feel the feeling growing in me that, ‘I don’t think I can make it back,” he said. “I could feel very quickly, like, it’s done.”
In a post to social media announcing his retirement, the tennis champ said following the “challenges” of his injuries and surgeries, he’s “worked hard to return to full competitive form.”
“But I also know my body’s capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear,” he said. “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 recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.”
Later, speaking with Guthrie, he said he is excited to spend more time at home with his family. Federer is father to twin girls Myla and Charlene, 13, as well as twin boys Lenny and Leo, 8. with his wife Mirka.
He told Guthrie that he feels like his generation of tennis pros “pushed tennis into the right direction.”
“And I think I did it my way. I always stayed true to myself and people always, it seemed like, loved watching me play, which is I guess the ultimate compliment.”
The Associated Press contributed.