With the retirement of Roger Federer, it was a tribute to his career

Roger Federer didn’t let them see him sweating.

He played tennis with a style that rarely betrays the effort behind his deft serve, attack rare in his day and flawless feet. No one grumbled loudly at the shots or celebrated wildly after them.

The way he used the racket helped him win, yes, and win a lot, to the tune of 20 Grand Slams – more than half a dozen of any man before him – over his 15 years, and 103 championship titles. All, plus the Davis Cup and Olympic medals for Switzerland, spending week after week in first place in the world rankings. It also helped him avoid serious injuries for a long time and achieve continued excellence over decades.

“Every time people write me off, or try to write me off, I can get my strength back,” Federer once said in an interview with The Associated Press. On Thursday, just over a month after his 41st birthday and after a series of knee operations, he announced that there would be no more comeback.

It’s a loss for tennis, sure, and a loss for the sports world. News arrives less than two weeks after Serena Williams, who holds 23 Grand Slam singles titles, played what she suggested would be the last match of her illustrious career shortly before she turned 41.

One of Federer’s biggest rivals, Rafael Nadal, said recently: “Some leave, others come and the world continues. It’s a natural cycle.”

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