'테니스 황제' 로저 페더러(41·스위스)가 현역 은퇴를 선언했다.
페더러는 15일(현지시간) 다음 주 영국 런던에서 열리는 레이버컵 대회를 끝으로 은퇴한다고 자신의 사회관계망서비스(SNS)를 통해 밝혔다. 페더러는 "다음 주 열리는 레이버컵은 남자프로테니스(ATP)에서 내 마지막 대회가 될 것"이라며 "앞으로도 테니스를 하겠지만, 그랜드슬램(메이저 4개 대회)이나 투어에서는 경기하지 않을 것"이라고 밝혔다. 레이버컵은 일반 투어 대회가 아닌 유럽과 월드 팀의 남자 테니스 대항전이다.
그는 "많은 분이 알고 있듯이 지난 3년간 부상과 수술 등으로 어려움을 겪었다"며 "경쟁력을 온전히 갖추기 위해 노력했지만 제 몸의 한계를 저는 잘 알고 있다"고 말했다. 페더러는 또 "저는 24년간 1500경기 이상을 뛰었고 테니스는 제가 꿈꿨던 것보다 훨씬 더 관대하게 저를 대해줬다"면서 "이제는 경력을 마무리할 때가 됐다는 걸 깨달았다"고 썼다.
그는 메이저 대회 단식에서 통산 20회 우승해 역대 최다 우승 3위에 올라있다. 1위는 22회 우승의 라파엘 나달(스페인), 2위는 21회의 노박 조코비치(세르비아)다. 페더러는 2003년 윔블던에서 처음 메이저 단식 우승을 차지했다. 마지막 메이저 우승은 2018년 호주오픈이다.
페더러가 코트를 떠나는 건 부상 때문으로 보인다. 1981년생인 그는 최근 1년 반 사이에 무릎 수술을 세 번 받았고 치료와 재활을 반복했다. 그는 지난해 7월 윔블던 이후 무릎 부상 등의 이유로 1년 넘게 공식 대회에 나오지 못했다. 당초엔 부상 회복 후 9월 레이버컵과 10월 ATP 투어 스위스 인도어 바젤에 출전할 예정이었다.
다음은 페더러가 자신의 SNS에 게재한 은퇴 선언문 전문(全文).
To my tennis family and beyond,
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 you all.
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 1,500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognise when it’s 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 eight-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 recognise 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 an intensity, and I always tried me 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 than 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.