Tennis great Roger Federer announced his retirement from the ATP Tour via social media and his website Thursday morning. Next week’s Laver Cup in London will be the final competitive event for the 20-time Grand Slam winner.
“I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years,” Federer said. “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.”
Federer posted video-game type numbers on the court during his career. He spent 237 straight weeks at the No. 1 ranking, and at 36 years old, set the mark as oldest No. 1 ever. He made 18 of 19 Grand Slam finals between 2005 and 2010; and won five straight titles at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. The success helped him generate $131 million in prize money, third all-time among men’s tennis players behind long-time rivals Novak Djokovic ($159 million) and Rafael Nadal ($132 million).
Federer’s off-court game has been even stronger, as he became the first tennis player to earn $1 billion during his career from prize money, endorsements and appearance fees. He retires with an estimated $1.1 billion in earnings.
The Swiss tennis ace has struggled with injuries in recent years, playing only 19 matches since the start of 2020, and none since Wimbledon in 2021. But sponsors continue to back the 20-time Grand Slam winner, due to his legacy and success. On Sportico’s 2022 list of highest-paid athletes, he ranked as the top-earning tennis player at $85.7 million, with only $700,000 from prize money. His $85 million from sponsors ranks second behind all athletes, just behind LeBron James.
Most of his 14 sponsors are expected to stay with Federer in his retirement, as half of them have already partnered with him for at least a decade, including Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz and Rolex. “I want to thank my loyal sponsors, who are really like partners to me,” Federer said in his statement.
In 2018, Federer signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo following a split with Nike. Federer was 36 at the time, and the money was guaranteed whether he played or not. And since Uniqlo didn’t make sneakers, it gave him a chance to double-dip and cut a second deal with On after wearing Nike head-to-toe for two decades.
He invested in the Swiss sneaker brand in 2019 as part of an endorsement agreement and holds an estimated 3% of the company’s shares, worth close to $200 million. Last month, the company reported an earnings gain of 67% for the second quarter and said it was on track to reach $1 billion in revenue for the first time in 2022.
Federer will cash in almost immediately from his announcement. His last professional appearance will be at the Laver Cup, which he co-founded with his longtime agent, Tony Godsick. The Laver Cup is comparable to golf’s Ryder Cup, matching a team from Europe against the rest of the world, and interest will be high next week to catch one last shot of Fed.
Federer says he is done with Grand Slams and professional tennis but not the sport itself, as he concluded his farewell to fans, “Finally, to the game of tennis: I love you and will never leave you.”
This story has been updated to accurately reflect Federer’s age when he became the oldest-ever No. 1.