‘The greatest’: Lleyton Hewitt praises Roger Federer’s tough decision to retire

Sep 16, 2022
Lleyton Hewitt offers praise to Roger Federer on his retirement. Source: Getty

In another shock to the tennis world, sporting legend Roger Federer has announced that after “1500 matches over 24 years”, next week’s Laver Cup in London will be the last notch in his competitive career.

The 41-year-old cited injuries and surgeries as the deciding factor to leave the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

Retired Australian tennis superstar Lleyton Hewitt commended the “nearly unbeatable” Federer for retiring “on his terms”.

 

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“He was the greatest of that time and our era,” Hewitt said while in Germany as captain of Australia’s Davis Cup team.

“But just his win-loss record in the mid-2000s, Roger was nearly unbeatable – it was pretty much only Rafa (Nadal) that could get him, especially on the clay.

“But most of all he’s been a great ambassador for our sport.

“He deserved to go out on his terms. For him to play one more Wimbledon would have been special, but when you get to his age, it’s not easy. He’s done everything in the sport he could ever dream of.”

The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced his “bittersweet decision” to retire on social media, thanking his family, team, sponsors, competitors, and fans for their support over the years.

“To my tennis family and beyond,” the Swiss player wrote.

“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. 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 capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear. I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1500 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.

“The Laver Cup next week in London 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.

“I would like to especially thank my amazing wife Mirka, who has lived through every minute with me. She has warmed me up before finals, watched countless matches even while over 8-months pregnant, and has endured my goofy side on the road with my team for over 20 years. I also want to thank my four wonderful children for supporting me, always eager to explore new places and creating wonderful memories along the way. Seeing my family cheering me on from the stands is a feeling I will cherish forever.

“I would also like to thank and recognize my loving parents and my dear sister, without whom nothing would be possible. A big thank you to all my former coaches who always guided me in the right direction… you have been wonderful! And to Swiss Tennis, who believed in me as a young player and gave me an ideal start.

“I really want to thank and acknowledge my amazing team, Ivan, Dani, Roland, and particularly Seve and Pierre, who have given me the best advice and have always been there for me. Also Tony, for creatively managing my business for over 17 years. You are all incredible and I have loved every minute with you.

“I want to thank my loyal sponsors, who are really like partners to me; and the hard-working teams and tournaments on the ATP Tour, who consistently welcomed all of us with kindness and hospitality.

“I would also like to thank my competitors on the court. I was lucky enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget. We battled fairly, with passion and intensity, and I always tried my best to respect the history of the game. I feel extremely grateful. We pushed each other, and together we took tennis to new levels.

“Above all I must offer a special thank you to my unbelievable fans. You will never know how much strength and belief you have given me. The inspiring feeling of walking into full stadiums and arenas has been one of the huge thrills in my life. Without you, those successes would have felt lonely, rather than filled with joy and energy.

“The last 24 years on tour have been an incredible adventure. While it sometimes feels like it went by in 24 hours, it has also been so deep and magical that it seems as if I’ve already lived a full lifetime. I have had the immense fortune to play in front of you in over 40 different countries. I have laughed and cried, felt joy and pain, and most of all I have felt incredibly alive. Through my travels, I have met many wonderful people who will remain friends for life, who consistently took time out of their busy schedules to come watch me play and cheer me on around the globe. Thank you.

“When my love of tennis started, I was a ball kid in my hometown of Basel. I used to watch the players with a sense of wonder. They were like giants to me and I began to dream. My dreams led me to work harder and I started to believe in myself. Some success brought me confidence and I was on my way to the most amazing journey that has led to this day.

“So, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart, to everyone around the world who has helped make the dreams of a young Swiss ball kid come true.

“Finally, to the game of tennis: I love you and will never leave you.”

Federer joins the likes of Ash Barty and Serena Williams, who both retired earlier this year.

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