Serena Williams welcomes Roger Federer to ‘retirement club’
Fellow living legend Serena Williams, who has said she is ‘evolving away from tennis’ herself, has hailed retiring Roger Federer as an inspiration.
“You inspired countless millions and millions of people – including me – and we will never forget,” said Williams.
“Welcome to the retirement club. And thank you for being you.”
Federer, 41, will end a career that featured 20 Grand Slam singles titles after the Laver Cup, which begins in London on 23 September.
“I have always looked up to you and admired you,” said Williams. “I applaud you and look forward to all that you do in the future.”
Williams and Federer played against each other only once on court, facing off in a mixed doubles match at the Hopman Cup in 2019.
Federer and fellow Swiss Belinda Bencic beat Williams and American compatriot Francis Tiafoe in front of a tournament-record 14,000 crowd.
Federer’s decision to retire from the sport after three years blighted by knee injuries has prompted a wave of tributes.
Federer’s great rival Rafael Nadal, one of only two men’s players with more Grand Slam singles titles, said it was “a sad day” for sport.
Current world number ones Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz, 21 and 19 respectively, thanked Federer for inspiring them.
“I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done and everything you are for our sport,” Pole Swiatek said.
“It’s been a privilege to witness your career. I wish you all the best.”
Spaniard Alcaraz said: “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!”
Andy Roddick, who lost to Federer in a five-set Wimbledon final in 2009, joked that Federer’s retirement could prompt him to launch an All England Club.
“Thanks for the shared memories my friend,” the American said.
“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).”
Federer’s appeal extended to legends of other sports.
Argentina and Paris St-Germain forward Lionel Messi described Federer as a “genius”.
“Unique in tennis history and a role model for any sportsman,” said the 35-year-old.
“I wish you the best in your new stage, we will miss seeing you on the court.”
Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, a regular in Wimbledon’s Royal Box, said, like many, that the style of Federer’s tennis had captivated him.
“What a career,” he said. “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.”