Roger Federer’s Wimbledon farewell was far from fitting.
In a flurry of forehand shanks and mistimed volleys, Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz drummed him off Centre Court two years ago with almost unseemly haste.
Knees shot, he hobbled out of the All England Club – a place where he’s won eight times – without confirming what we all really knew, 22 years after his debut, he was Wimble-done.
Federer loves Wimbledon but Wimbledon loves Federer more and today (TUESDAY), 20 years after his first title, fans will get a chance to say a proper goodbye with a ceremony before Tuesday’s Centre Court action.
Wimbledon does this misty-eyed occasions well, cue the evocative montage set to one of those sad cover songs not yet used on a John Lewis advert.
“I’m pleased Roger will be with us and we will have a special celebratory moment to honour him as the man holding the most gentlemen’s singles titles here at Wimbledon,” said All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton. “We’ll have a moment just to celebrate his achievements and to say thank you for all the memories.”
Bolton also confirmed seven-time champion Serena Williams, who announced her retirement last year, was also invited but the pregnant 41-year-old was unable to travel.
“We wish her lots of luck with the remainder of her pregnancy and we hope maybe we might see her next year,” she added.
But don’t expect any tears from Federer, who was all cried out after the emotional rollercoaster of his final match, alongside long-time rival Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup last September.
Wimbledon has previously been rather notorious for ignominious goodbyes to its champions, see George Bastl’s humbling of Pete Sampras on an outside court in the seven-time champion’s last appearance.
In the words of the omnipresent advertising campaign for this year – ‘Always Like Never Before’ – this is an event that relies on tradition while relentlessly looking to the future.
Some former winners cling to this place like a rash, coming back year after year for commentary gigs or appearances in the invitation doubles.
Federer is surely too effortlessly cool for that sort of a caper and will spend just a couple of days at the Championships before heading back to his home on Lake Zurich, more of a Swiss than a French exit.
“Becoming a commentator in the year after my retirement didn’t feel right, maybe I will commentate one day, maybe never,” he said.
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