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  1. Tennis

Tennis: Federer to step into retirement

Roger Federer has announced he will call time on his illustrious tennis career after featuring at the Laver Cup in London later this month.

The 41-year-old has struggled with injuries over the past three years and, having missed all four of this season's Grand Slams, has announced his intention to retire.

He will step away from the game with 20 Grand Slam titles under his belt and will be regarded as one of the greatest to pick up a racquet.

Only Rafael Nadal, who has won 22 majors, and Novak Djokovic, with 21, have won more men's Grand Slam titles than the Swiss.

Federer confirmed on Thursday that he will bring the curtain down on his glittering 24-year career after the Laver Cup, which runs between 23rd September and 25th September at the O2 Arena in London.

Success took time to arrive

Federer made his professional debut aged 16 in 1998, turning out at the Swiss Open Gstaad in his homeland, but he suffered a first round defeat to Arnold Ker.

He went on to win his first match on the ATP Tour later that year, beating Guillaume Raoux in Toulouse, before earning a wildcard entry into the 1998 Swiss Indoors.

Andre Agassi, who was world number one at the time, saw off Federer in the first round of the Swiss Indoors, however, he retires having gone on to win the tournament on 10 occasions.

His first taste of Grand Slam action came in 1999, but he went out of both the French Open and Wimbledon in the first round.

The Swiss showed an improvement with each year that went by, making it to round four of the French Open in 2000, reaching the quarter-finals in Paris and at Wimbledon in 2001, but his first Grand Slam title didn't arrive until 2003.

That triumph at Wimbledon, beating Mark Philippoussis in the final, proved to be the turning point in Federer's career and he went on to win a further four titles in succession at the All England Club.

Wimbledon a happy hunting ground

Of Federer's 20 Grand Slam crowns, eight of those were collected on the grass at Wimbledon and he holds the record for men's singles victories at SW19.

His last success at Wimbledon came in 2017 when he sealed a straight sets victory over Marin Cilic and he went so close to adding another title when pushing Djokovic close in the 2019 final.

Wimbledon tweeted: "Roger, Where do we begin? It's been a privilege to witness your journey and see you become a champion in every sense of the word.

"We will so miss the sight of you gracing our courts, but all we can say for now is thank you, for the memories and joy you have given to so many."

The Australian Open ranks next on Federer's list of honours, with him having won the Melbourne showpiece on six occasions - his most recent Grand Slam triumph came Down Under in 2018.

He is a five-time US Open champion and showed his class on the clay at the French Open when going all the way in 2009.

Federer first became the world's number one ranked player in 2004 and spent 310 weeks at the summit across his career, a record that was only surpassed by Djokovic in 2021.

There was also plenty to celebrate from a Swiss perspective as he won doubles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and silver in the singles at London 2012.

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Injuries take their toll

It's always tough to know when to call it a day, especially for one of the world's best, and so few manage to get out at the right time when they are still at the peak of their powers.

Federer's final season as a professional certainly won't be regarded as one of his better campaigns after failing to get himself fit enough to feature in any of the Grand Slam events.

Indeed, his last three seasons have been majorly disrupted by injury and his last major success came at the 2018 Australian Open.

He underwent surgery on his knee for the third time after his quarter-final exit from Wimbledon in 2021 and hasn't played competitively since.

He confirmed in a statement: "My body's message to me lately has been clear. I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years. Now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career.

"To the game of tennis, I love you and will never leave you."

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