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Farewell to Serena Williams and Roger Federer

Farewell to Serena Williams and Roger Federer
September 2022 was a funny old month for many reasons in the UK.
It started in Summer and ended in Autumn, began with blue skies and ended with grey ones, kicked off with one Prime Minister and ended with another, opened with cheap mortgages and ended with no mortgages, and commenced with a Queen and ended with a King.
Few will recall a more eventful month in recent times. And whilst there were a couple of extremely notable introductions, it will live long in the memory largely as one of farewells.
We’re here to pay tribute to a couple of these that fall some way down the list, but in any normal month would be right there at the top. Two of the greatest champions of one legendary sport both called time on their long, glittering and illustrious careers in the very same month - Serena Williams and Roger Federer.
With no less than 43 Grand Slam victories between them, we take a brief look at what made this pair two true legends of tennis.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams turned pro back in 1995, just after her fourteenth birthday. Her planned tournament debut was curtailed before it even started due to age restrictions. As a result she filed a lawsuit against the women’s tour. It was promptly withdrawn at her parent’s request, but gave an initial glimpse into the fiercely driven nature which would bring her so much success over the decades to come.
Her prodigious talents came to the fore over the next few years, where she picked up a couple of famous scalps in the singles and dominated the doubles scene with elder sister Venus.
In 1999 she won her first her US Open title, defeating World number one Martina Hingis in the final. In doing so, she became only the second African-American woman to win a Grand Slam singles tournament.
For the next few years she battled with Venus for many major tournaments, more often than not coming out second best. In 2001 she had risen to career-high number 2, second only to you know who.
In 2002 Serena won her first Wimbledon title, defeating her celebrated sister in the final. At this point the tide began to turn in Serena’s favour and she became almost unbeatable for a period. By winning the Australian Open in late January the following year, Williams achieved a historic Career Grand Slam, affectionately known as the “Serena Slam”.
The next few years were frustrating for Serena, with numerous injuries and a decline in form before she began to climb up the rankings again, returning to number one in 2007.
Wimbledon 2012 saw the start of an incredible period of dominance, where she won eight majors over the next three years, culminating in her second ‘Serena Slam” in 2015.
After yet another Australian Open success in 2017 Williams took a break from tennis after becoming pregnant. She returned in March 2018 and proceeded to reach four further Grand Slam finals over the next couple of years, sadly she was unable to add to her laden trophy cabinet any further.
Williams is widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, but outside of the court she has made a lasting impression on many other levels. She is regarded as a stellar role model, a fashion icon and an activist.
Roger Federer
Federer somehow managed the near impossible - to be as universally popular as he was successful. Widely regarded as one of the nicest guys in sport, as well as one of the most talented.
He is a hero the world over, but he has a special relationship with British fans as a result of them witnessing his record eight Wimbledon titles.
Federer’s brand of fluid, speed-driven tennis was a breath of fresh air in a field which was often dominated by power, strength and un-returnable serves (all of which he also has in the locker). He was renowned for his versatility, flair and decision making. Many have commented that his play appears almost effortless.
The signs of brilliance were there from a very early stage, as he won both the Junior Singles and Doubles titles at Wimbledon in 1998 as a precocious sixteen year old.
Roger had to wait five years before he won the first of his Wimbledon titles at a senior level. From that point forward he asserted a real dominance over the tournament, winning for the next four years in a row.
At the same time he was picking up Grand Slam wins for fun across the planet - the US Open for five years consecutively from 2004 to 2008 and the Australian Open three times over the same period. In 2009 he completed his career Grand Slam at the French Open after three final losses on the bounce to his great rival Rafael Nadal.
By his own exceptionally high standards, the early 2010’s were a bit of a dry period for Federer as Nadal and Djokovic rose to prominence and he suffered a run of injuries. He still won two majors during this period, but didn’t enjoy the dominance to which he had become accustomed.
In 2017 he returned after a long hiatus recovering from knee surgery and back issues. Few would have foreseen the brilliant renaissance that would happen as a result. He outgunned his younger rivals as he had his most successful season for ten years, winning Wimbledon and the Australian Open again in the process.
Roger won his twentieth and final Grand Slam in Australia the following year. A further epic five set Wimbledon final in 2019 was to be his last on the hallowed turf.
As he called time on his truly incredible professional career last month, Federer will continue his duties as an active philanthropist through the Roger Federer Foundation which supports educational projects in southern African countries and Switzerland. 
One thing is for sure; tennis won’t be the same after these two iconic champions departed the court for the final time at the age of 41, but thankfully their character’s will continue to give us plenty of memories to get us through many Septembers to come.


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