There’s plenty of parallels between Serena Williams and Roger Federer – both are considered by many to be the greatest ever, both are now in their 40s – but only one has officially called time on their storied career.
Although Federer has hardly played tennis in the past two years, he remains hopeful of playing on – and Australian great Todd Woodbridge has a theory on when the Swiss superstar will finally hang up the racquet.
“I think Roger’s still got plans to continue,” he told Wide World of Sports.
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“He turned up at Wimbledon and he looked great, he looked like he was in shape to want to come back – he’s planning to play the Laver Cup in September, and we’ll get an idea there.”
Federer is absolutely beloved around the world, but nowhere more so than at Wimbledon, where he’s claimed eight singles titles.
Just as Williams is calling it a day at her home slam, the US Open, it’s likely Federer follows suit at his second home at the All England club.
“He just turned 41. He could be playing in Legends events now – and I think there’s an inevitable announcement coming from him too, but he’ll do it differently to Serena,” Woodbridge said.
“I think for him, it would be seeing over the next six months whether he might be able to go back to Wimbledon. For him, that would be the place to say goodbye.
“It will come down to whether he wants to remember one last time on court, or just remember all the brilliant matches he played.
“It’ll be interesting to see how he makes his announcement, but it’s inevitable that it’s coming in the next 12 months, I would assume.”
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For some athletes, like NBA icon Kobe Bryant or baseball legend David Ortiz, it’s a year-long retirement tour. Others give a couple of weeks’ notice, while there’s some who just go quietly into the night.
For Woodbridge, it was an almost instant call.
Alongside Indian Mahesh Bhupathi, Woodbridge was defeated by countryman Stephen Huss, and South Africa’s Wayne Moodie, in straight sets.
“I was only 34, so at a different point to those two, but I lost second round of Wimbledon doubles where I felt I should still be winning it and I thought ‘if this is what it’s going to be like, I’m done’ and I went home that night and said ‘we’re finished’, and made the announcement the next day.”
Given that Huss and Moodie went on to win the entire tournament, beating the top-seeded Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi in the semis and the second-seeded Bryan brothers in the final, perhaps Woodbridge was slightly harsh on his team’s efforts – but he’s never given it a second thought.
“I still don’t regret doing it that way – for me, I left at the tournament that I dreamt about playing, and had won,” he said.
“That was the right thing for me at that place, and that’s what Serena is doing – and I’ll be interested to see if Roger chooses something like Wimbledon to do the same.”
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