Roger Federer brings down curtain on his career with a defeat, but still dazzles alongside longtime friend and rival Rafael Nadal
On a cold afternoon in September 1994, seven seed and three-time defending champion Roger Federer came up short of his dream of winning the men’s singles title at Wimbledon. He lost in three sets to Andre Agassi, in the final. Federer was 32 years old and had never before won a Grand Slam men’s singles title, but he was about to surpass Rod Laver, the all-but-forgotten six-time champion. A man who had come to play, and to play out, was about to give it all up.
Federer went on to win 10 Grand Slam men’s singles titles — five at Wimbledon, two at the U.S. Open and one at the Australian Open. He would go on to hold the world Number 1 ranking for 20 years. He is the only man to win 11 Grand Slam women’s singles titles. As the first champion since 1936 to do so, Roger Federer’s name always gets thrown up as a model for what it means to take the game into the future.
Now, nearly three decades later, Federer has become that rare figure — someone with a big game and big passion for both tennis and the game’s future. Along with longtime friend and compatriot Rafael Nadal, Federer’s career has been a long journey to the top.
“I had a tremendous period of my life,” Federer tells TIME. His career, he says, has been about taking part in what he calls “these life-changing experiences” and then “making the most of those experiences.”
But Federer’s path to the top is not the straightforward one of his generation. No, for all the glamour and success that came with Federer’s ascent, his career would ultimately be defined by