Roger Federer is aiming for one last Wimbledon farewell appearance as a player following his return to Center Court for: a special anniversary party caused a standing ovation.
As the only man to win Wimbledon eight times, Federer was the last player to be presented at the parade of champions and received the most lavish ovation, even from some of the greatest players in tennis history.
“I hope I can come back one more time,” said Federer, who only reached the final in 2019 but will turn 41 next month.
Federer has been suffered from a knee injury in the past year and admitted he was dubious about traveling to London for the ceremony.
“I didn’t know if I would make the trip, but I’m glad I’m here now,” he said. “It feels uncomfortable to be here in a different kind of role today. Of course I missed being here – I would have loved to be here [playing]† This court has given me my greatest wins, my greatest losses.
“Maybe I didn’t think it would take so long to get back. The knee has been hard on me, but I’ve been happy at home.”
Federer cited his breakthrough in 2001 against Pete Sampras and then his first Wimbledon title in 2003 as two particular highlights.
Other former champions introduced include Margaret Court, the all-time Grand Slam record holder with 24 titles, whose views on same-sex marriage and homosexuality have led to calls to rename Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Court was greeted respectfully at Center Court where, after Federer, particularly loud cheers were heard for Rafael Nadal, Chris Evert, Novak Djokovic, Rod Laver, Bjorn Bjorg, Venus Williams, Billie Jean King and Andy Murray.
Among the absent former champions was Russian former champion Maria Sharapova, who is currently heavily pregnant. The Wimbledon suspension only affects the current Russian and Belarus players and not the coaching staff, and it is unclear whether Sharapova received an invitation.
Martina Navratilova, the legendary nine-time women’s champion, has been to Wimbledon but missed the ceremony after contracting Covid. Other notable absentees were seven-time champion Steffi Graf and Pete Sampras.