Roger Federer began his legendary tennis career as a ball boy in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland.
He played in his first professional tournament in 1998, aged 16, and later that year he became the junior Wimbledon champion.
Since winning his first men’s Wimbledon title aged 21, Federer never looked back. He would go on to dominate this tournament – and many others - for the foreseeable future.
Federer quickly became a fan-favourite due to the perceived effortlessness of his playstyle, in addition to his ability to win on any surface.
Two decades after winning his first Grand Slam title, Federer, 41, has decided to put an end to his professional playing days and announced his retirement on social media.
He played his final match alongside long-time rival Rafael Nadal in the Laver Cup doubles on Friday 23 September 2022.
Over the course of his career, not only has Federer won 20 Grand Slam titles, but he has also been served countless Guinness World Records titles, of which he still holds 30.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 15, 2022
To my tennis family and beyond,
Roger Federer has the overall record of most tennis Grand Slam singles matches won, with 369 victories during his career. He has 35 more than Novak Djokovic (Serbia) in second place.
Federer first broke this record back in 2012, when he surpassed Jimmy Connors’ (USA) total of 233.
Since then he has jockeyed for the title with Serena Williams, who held it for two years between 2016-17, before Federer claimed it back in 2018. Williams drew level once again in 2021, but Federer would pull ahead a few months later by progressing to the quarter finals at Wimbledon.
Federer’s outing at Wimbledon 2021 was his last Grand Slam appearance, 22 years after his first at the 1999 French Open. Federer is tied with Feliciano López (Spain) for the record of most Grand Slam singles tournaments played (male) at 81.
Federer also held the prestigious record of most Grand Slam singles tennis titles won (male) for many years. After winning Wimbledon in 2009 to pull ahead of Pete Sampras’ (USA) total of 14, Federer remained the record holder for almost 13 years. Roger’s record was equalled in 2020 by Rafael Nadal (Spain), who then took sole ownership of it in 2022 by winning both the Australian Open and French Open, taking his total number of Grand Slam titles to 22.
Not only was Federer a phenom at winning Grand Slam titles, he was also able to defend them. He became the first tennis player to defend 10 Grand Slam singles titles (male) following his success at the 2018 Australian Open, which he had also won in 2017. This was the first time he had won back-to-back titles since the 2008 US Open.
One of the factors that makes Federer a true tennis legend is his longevity at the elite level.
He set a record for the longest span of Grand Slam singles titles by a tennis player (male, open era) when he won the 2018 Australian Open, 14 years 206 days after his first title in 2003 at Wimbledon.
From 2004 to 2008, he spent 273 weeks as the world’s top ranked player; a record for the longest time consecutively ranked tennis world number one (male). In total, Federer spent 310 weeks of his career in the number one spot, second only to Djokovic’s 373 weeks. Djokovic’s longest stretch at the top was 122 weeks.
Federer also became the oldest tennis player ranked world number one (male), when he defeated Milos Raonic in the Stuttgart Open final in 2018, aged 36 years 314 days old.
Federer has played his entire professional career – 1,522 matches – without retiring mid-match through injury or illness, setting a record for the most matches played on the ATP Tour without retiring.
During his unstoppable prime, Roger Federer rarely had a bad day on the court. His consistent high-level performances were rewarded with many trophies won and several world records broken.
Between 2003 and 2005, he achieved the most consecutive tennis final victories, winning 24 tournaments in a row.
Federer also reached the most consecutive Grand Slam singles finals (male), starting with a victory at the 2005 Wimbledon showpiece and finishing with another at the 2008 US Open final.
The overall record belongs to Steffi Graf (Germany), who contested 13 consecutive Slam finals between the 1987 and 1990 French Opens.
Federer has additionally reached the most consecutive Men’s Grand Slam semi-finals (23) and most consecutive tennis Grand Slam quarter-finals (36).
Between 2006 and 2015, Federer became the first tennis player to reach 10 consecutive finals at a single tournament – the Swiss Indoors tournament.
He has contested the final of this tournament 15 times, which is the most finals played at a single tennis tournament. He won it 10 times in total.
In 2019, Federer also became the first tennis player to win 10 finals on two different surfaces, following victories at the aforementioned Swiss Indoors (hard court) and Germany’s Halle Open (grass court).
Roger Federer has also set several records at the ATP World Tour Finals over the years:
- Most singles appearances at the ATP Finals – 17
- Most consecutive seasons at the ATP World Tour Finals – 14
- Most wins of the singles ATP World Tour Finals – 6
A record he’ll be less proud of is the most French Open men's singles final defeats. All four losses came at the hands of Rafael Nadal, who won the tournament a record 14 times. Novak Djokovic equally has four French Open final losses, of which three were against Nadal.
Wimbledon, founded in 1877, is the world’s oldest surviving tennis tournament. Throughout his career, Roger Federer enjoyed huge success at Wimbledon, reaching the final almost every year.
He holds the all-time record for the most Wimbledon men's singles tennis titles, winning it eight times between 2003 and 2017, including five in a row from 2003-07.
Djokovic is hot on Federer’s heels with seven wins in total. Pete Sampras (USA) and W.C. Renshaw (UK) have also won it seven times.
In 2019, Federer won his 100th singles match at Wimbledon, beating Kei Nishikori to advance to the semi-finals. In doing so, he became the first male player to win 100 singles matches at a Grand Slam tennis tournament.
Federer’s dominance on grass courts is unparalleled. He won 66 matches in a row on the surface from 2003-08, which is the most tennis singles matches on grass won consecutively (male).
This impressive run led Federer to 10 tournament wins – the most grass-court singles titles won consecutively – including five Wimbledon Championships in a row.
Roger’s run came to an end at the 2008 Wimbledon final, where he lost to Nadal in a gruelling match that lasted 4 hours 48 minutes, which set a record as the longest Wimbledon singles final.
A year later, Federer faced off against Andy Roddick (USA) in another record-setting Wimbledon final.
The pair played the most games in a tennis Wimbledon singles final ever (77). Federer served up 50 aces during the match, setting a record for the most aces served in a Grand Slam singles final. Federer won the last set 16-14 to claim the victory.
10 years later, in 2019, Federer once again broke the record for the longest Wimbledon singles final in a 4-hour-57-minute encounter with Djokovic, in which the Serbian ultimately triumphed.
Federer’s lengthy matches aren’t just limited to Wimbledon – he also set the record for the longest Olympic tennis singles match when he took 4 hours 26 minutes to beat Juan Martin Del Potro (Argentina) at London 2012.
Money & Awards
Over his illustrious career, Roger Federer has been well-rewarded for his performances.
In 2020, he set a record for the highest annual earnings for a tennis player ever. Although he 'only' earned $6.3 million (£5.1 m) in prize money, he made $100 million (£80.9 m) in endorsements. This included lucrative deals with Credit Suisse, Mercededes-Benz, Nike, Rolex, Uniqlo and other brands.
Federer also holds a similar but separate record for his 2022 income - highest annual earnings for a tennis player (male, current year); $90.7 million (£72 m).
In terms of awards, Federer has a record for the most Laureus World Sportsman of the Year awardswon.
The Laureus World Sports Awards is an annual award ceremony, considered to be the sporting equivalent of the Oscars. Federer won Sportsman of the Year four times in a row from 2005-08 and claimed his fifth award ten years later, in 2018.
He also has the overall most Laureus World Sports Awards won, with the addition of his 2018 Comeback of the Year award. Federer was awarded this in recognition of his remarkable journey back to the top of the world rankings at the age of 36 after a career-threatening knee injury.
heading to dinner with some friends @RafaelNadal@andy_murray@DjokerNolepic.twitter.com/2oYR3hnGaZ— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 22, 2022
As one of the "Big Three", alongside Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer’s legendary career will be remembered for generations to come.
His retirement marks a shift in the landscape of men’s tennis, which he has dominated for almost two decades.
In his social media statement, Federer thanked "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 I will never leave you.” – Roger Federer