A tearful Roger Federer waved goodbye to professional tennis after teaming up with fellow great Rafael Nadal on an emotional night at the Laver Cup.
The 41-year-old received a long ovation after walking off court for the final time as he retired as a professional.
The Swiss, who won 20 Grand Slam singles titles, is considered one of the best players in tennis history.
“It’s been a wonderful day. I’m happy, not sad. It feels great to be here. I’m happy I made it through,” he said.
Federer cried as he hugged Nadal and other players, then took acclaim from the thousands of fans who chanted his name at the O2 Arena in London.
Nadal also could not hold back the tears. The 36-year-old Spaniard cried as he sat alongside Federer while the pair listened to British singer Ellie Goulding, who rounded off a memorable night with a performance.
Federer and Nadal – long-time rivals at the top of men’s tennis, joined forces to play doubles against American pair Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe in the annual team event between Europe and the rest of the world.
Despite Federer not having played competitively for over a year, the veteran duo pushed Sock and Tiafoe before losing 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 11-9 as Team World leveled at 2-2 at the end of play on an opening day.
Federer and Nadal – affectionately nicknamed ‘Fedal’ – almost won it. The pair had a match point at 9-8 in the decider, but Federer could only lunge for a forehand which he pushed into the net.
The defeat brought the former world number one’s 25-year professional career to a close after his 1,750th competitive match across singles and doubles.
“It’s been the perfect journey. I’d do it all again,” said Federer as he held back tears during his on-court speech.
The presence of several tennis legends including Rod Laver, along with celebrities including Hollywood actor Hugh Grant and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, added to the occasion.
The key numbers in Federer’s career
20 Grand Slam singles titles 310 weeks as world number one
103 ATP titles 28 Masters 1,000 titles
6 ATP Finals victories 31 Grand Slam finals
1 Davis Cup triumph £114m career prize money