Even though we know it’s inevitable, it’s never easy to witness our sports legends age.
We recently watched LeBron James bow out of the first round of the NBA playoffs for the first time in his career — and look tired and old in doing so — and now another sports great is showing that father-time comes for us all.
Following his third-round victory, tennis great Roger Federer has withdrawn from the 2021 French Open.
Federer defeated Dominik Koepfer in four sets (7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5) Saturday night in a three-and-a-half-hour match that clearly took a lot out of him.
“After discussions with my team, I’ve decided I will need to pull out of the French Open today,” Federer posted to Twitter on Sunday. “After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it’s important that I listen to my body and make sure I don’t push myself too quickly on my road to recovery. I am thrilled to have gotten 3 matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court.”
“See everyone soon,” he concluded.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) June 6, 2021
Federer, who will turn 40 in August, was competing in just his third tournament this year and his first major since the 2020 Australian Open.
After his last major tournament, Federer had surgery on his knee, and last month, he made it clear that he wasn’t going to be fully ready for this year’s French Open and would focus on Wimbledon, which takes place in late June.
Roland-Garros, the home of the French Open, put out a statement regarding Federer’s decision to withdraw: “The Roland-Garros tournament organizers have learned that Roger Federer has withdrawn from the fourth-round of the tournament.”
“The Roland-Garros tournament is sorry about the withdrawal of Roger Federer, who put up an incredible fight last night. We were all delighted to see Roger back in Paris, where he played three high-level matches. We wish him all the best for the rest of the season,” said Roland-Garros.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 6, 2021
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was set to face Matteo Berrettini in the fourth round of the tournament, who will now face either Novak Djokovic or Lorenzo Musetti in the quarterfinals.
Federer’s announcement is another blow to the sport of tennis, as women’s tennis player Naomi Osaka pulled out of the French Open last week to focus on her mental health.
“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” Osaka posted to social media.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” she continued. “More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that. Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.”