These four words are certain to make millions of people cry: As of this year, Roger Federer will hang up his racket for good.
Repeat after me: Roger Federer is calling it quits.
For years, through back ailments and knee operations, agonizing retirements and extended exiles, the idea of a Federer exit had been tossed about.
It has finally come true. The world’s most-watched tennis player is retiring.
Solely tennis, though? Think about it: According to a survey conducted in 2011, Roger Federer ranked second only to Nelson Mandela in terms of global respect, surpassing such luminaries as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, and Pope Benedict XVI.
Who knew that a tennis player would one day be held in such high regard? More than a few tennis players have made it big time in the last 50 years.
They gained notoriety less for their on-court prowess and more for things like cultural relevance, fiery temperaments, and social involvement.
Federer, however, was something else entirely, compelling in a way that went beyond tennis even as he demonstrated it with an unparalleled blend of flair and grace.
Whether you had just heard of tennis or had been a part of it for half a century, Roger Federer was the face of the sport and a shining example of everything it could be. Nobody’s ever made more viewers fall in love with the potential of this sport.
Federer certainly did his fair share of community service, particularly in his mother Lynette’s home country of South Africa, where he helped fund and support educational initiatives.
Yes, he had an extensive resume of corporate endorsements from illustrious global consumer companies like Rolex and Mercedes, as well as a lifetime contract with Wilson Sporting Goods and a $300 million apparel agreement with Uniqlo.
While Federer certainly helped bring more attention to tennis, the sport itself was the primary vehicle for his success.