Just weeks after Serena Williams announced her retirement in August, 20-time Grand Slam Champion Roger Federer followed suit, affecting students who have long admired the tennis icons.
Federer announced his retirement in an Instagram post on Sept. 15.
“I am 41 years old, I have played more than 1500 matches over 24 years,” Federer said in the Instagram post. “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 former Swiss professional player hung up his racket on Sept. 23 at the Laver Cup.
Again on Sept. 15, Serena Williams praised Federer on his dedication to the sport and the impact he left on millions of people as well as welcoming him to the “retirement club”.
“I have always looked up to you and admired you,” Williams said in the Instagram post. “Our paths were always so similar, so much the same.”
Manager of Tennis Town & Country, Caden Manchev, and former amateur pro tennis player with ten-plus years of experience said he saw Williams play at the U.S. Open in 2003.
“With women’s tennis, I think she brought a whole new set of skills and a new addition to the game,” Manchev said. “She is unapologetically herself, and an overall strong mental player.”
Manchev saw Federer play in the 2005 U.S. Open where he defeated Andre Agassi in the final to win the men’s singles tennis title. He said that this was a pivotal moment in tennis history because Agassi later retired from the sport and left Federer in this new spotlight.
“I look up to Federer because of his elegance, and I think he’s very headstrong,” Manchev said. “He treats the rest of the players on tour well and is a very honorable player on and off the court.”
Given the recent announcements of both players, Manchev initially felt sad when he watched their last matches.
“It was time for them both, ” Manchev said. “ I feel like Federer’s retirement hit a little bit harder, because he was my favorite player for so many years.”
“Both of them will leave similar legacies, in terms of, first of all, changing tennis technique in the way it’s being taught these days,” Manchev said. “I think they both brought a lot of fun to the sport and an energy that isn’t 100 percent about competition.”
Co-captain of the girl’s tennis team Erin Li, who has been playing tennis for 10 years, said she was inspired when she first watched Williams and Federer play.
“I told my dad I wanted to be like them when I grow up,” Li said. “I have seen many professional tennis players play, but never Williams or Federer.”
Like many tennis players, Li said she admires the competitive talents of both Federer and Williams. However, she takes inspiration from each of their individual strengths.
“I look up to Roger Federer’s playing style and work ethic,” Li said. “ Serena Williams’ aggressiveness and focus when playing is something to look up to as well.”
Although Li said she expected the two players to retire soon, she was still surprised when she heard the news.
“I have looked up to Roger Federer for a really long time, and it’s really upsetting to not be able to watch Federer play on television anymore,” Li said.
While their decisions to retire shocked many fans, Li said she thinks Federer and Williams will still leave lasting legacies in tennis. Li also said they will continue to serve as role models for aspiring tennis players and other athletes.
“In general, they will continue to inspire new generations of players and athletes,” Li said. “Both show great examples of how anyone can be a great tennis player through hard work and passion.”