Tennis Prose



How Should Roger Federer Retire?

By Scoop Malinowski

The inevitable day when Roger Federer decides to stop playing professional tennis is approaching.

This monumental moment will have a devastating impact on the economy of the sport and also millions of ardent Federer enthusiasts all over the planet. But it’s going to happen. All great things must come to an end.

For a while now I’ve contemplated this topic. As a tennis journalist and author of ten tennis books I have the utmost respect for the ultimate champion Roger Federer and all he’s accomplished and the manner he has graced, uplifted and inspired not only millions of people but also the entire sport itself.

How he will decide to stop playing and say farewell is a deeply profound and difficult question. So I asked a bunch of former professional players for their view on what would be the ideal way for the one and only Roger Federer to step away from pro tennis?

Gilad Bloom (Former top 60 ranked ATP pro): “Win Wimbledon.”

Johan Kriek (Former two-time Australian Open champion): “Wins Wimbledon. At presentations on court says, ‘This is it…'”

Zane Khan (Current ATP ranked pro and hitting partner of Federer at Miami Open): “I would say at home in Basel.”

Jonas Bjorkman (Former ATP doubles world no. 1 and ATP world no. 4 in singles): “I think it’s too early to make a judgement and have an opinion about this since Federer has just played one tournament since his return after being away from tennis for such a long time.”

Jose Antonio Fernandez (Former ATP ranked player and members of Chilean Davis Cup team): “That’s a good question. I think a dream would be winning Wimbledon one more time and go home. Is that possible? I’m not sure. But I think that would be a dream. But I don’t know how he would feel because it looks like he enjoys the game so much he might even retire losing. Start losing and then retire. That’s what most of the guys do – they retire when they don’t win anymore.”

Harry Cicma (Former ATP ranked pro player): “Play two more years and end with a full, twelve-month notice so we can see him give his full heart in each event and the fans can push for him in each event. It will be a memorable season of tennis, maybe the most memorable of all time.”

Todd Martin (Former US Open and Australian Open finalist, former world no. 4 in singles): “Simple answer: However he wishes.”

Justin Gimelstob (Former ATP top 60 ranked player and winner of two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles): “I hope he does it on his terms. That’s what I hope. Whether it’s a great win at a big tournament or a great win in Basel on his home court. Something like that. But not a lot of champions get to go out on their terms, on top. I hope he does.”

Hans Gildemeister (Three time Roland Garros quarterfinalist and Roland Garros doubles finalist): “Doing a good performance in Wimbledon or US Open.”

Virginia Ruzici (1978 Roland Garros champion): “The ideal way, would be for Roger to win Wimbledon this year and say good bye after lifting the trophy. It’s a pity he missed an incredible opportunity in 2019, when he had (two) match points on his serve (vs. Novak Djokovic in the final).”

Yury Bettoni (Former pro player and Federer hitting partner): “While pretty much everyone expects Roger to retire in the temple of tennis, Wimbledon center court, I would say during Davis Cup, a homage to Peter Carter. As you know, having shared in first person unique moments with both I would definitely say that for Roger that would be the ultimate homage to who really made a huge impact on his early tennis life and also as a human. The bond they both had was just something special. Hard to describe … Father/son.”

Bob Lutz (Winner of five Grand Slam doubles titles and was also ranked no. 7 in singles with 11 singles titles): “Not sure… but maybe a farewell year especially at Majors where the fans will know that will be his last.”

Brian Gottfried (Former Roland Garros finalist and world no. 3): “I think Basel, his hometown event, should be his last tournament and after winning it for the 100th time he should return to the court and finish his career the way he started it, by working as a ball boy for the next match.” 

**** Bonus: Tennis journalists offer ideas…

Richard Pagliaro: “In Basel where it all began. End at the beginning.”

Miguel Seabra: “Tough question. Haven’t even thought of it. What I remember well is Roger, around 2014 when his results were poor and answering people saying he should retire, mentioned that people tend to forget that he and others play because they like the game, the traveling, the tour life… theoretically, it would be after winning a title — any title but preferably a big one and then just announce it in the trophy ceremony. I see him doing it à la Sharapova, just announcing it off competition. I don’t think a ‘Farewell Tour’ suits him, other than financially, saying goodbye after each tournament until the last one. But maybe the best way for him will be the one he chooses … he’s been so assertive his whole career that I trust him to retire in a better way than the one we could think of… I hope he surprises me, us in a good way.”

Jannik Schneider: “For me an ideal way to retire would be decent results in Wimbledon and at the Olympics. And with decent I mean quarters. People should aknowledge this as a big accomplishment in terms of age and time away from the Tour. You see how difficult comebacks are (Tsonga ) with knee injuries. But sadly a lot of fans won’t see it that way because Federer was their GOAT. And for them only titles count. But for me coming back at nearly age 40 and to be competitive is extraordinary achievement. I think it will be a problem with fitness and fatigue factor during tournaments.


  • Harry Cicma · March 24, 2021 at 7:46 pm

    Nice responses

  • Giacomo · March 25, 2021 at 11:12 am

    I like your style, to let other (qualified) people speak instead of giving your opinion. Only apparently humble, definitely classy.

  • Bill McGill · March 31, 2021 at 8:45 am

    He has given an interesting interview on this topic and very pointedly said three interesting things:

    (i) He feels no need to go out with a big win, the way Sampras did. He claimed that was fairytale stuff and not important to him.

    (ii) He said that what he was advised not to do (by Edberg? can’t remember) and won’t do is have the farewell tour where he announces he will retire at the end of the year and then plays the year. He said it turns every tourney into a media circus of nostalgia that distracts from the play.

    (iii) When asked whether he plans to retire at the end of a favorite or special tournament, he said yeah, maybe, but it might not be the tournament you might expect. I took this to mean it might not be Wimbledon. Maybe Basel, Halle or AO.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 31, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    Bill, thanks for the reminder of these Federer retirement hints by the maestro himself. It sounds like he’s wrestling with the decision quite a bit. As he should – because it will be one of the monumental moments in the history of sport. Federer is a creative artist, so it would make sense for him to depart the sport in a very unique special unexpected way. Hope it’s not for a good while and not injury determined.



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