Mats Wilander believes Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic “would not be at this level” without Roger Federer, and hopes the Swiss gets the farewell he deserves when he retires.
Nadal and Djokovic started their careers later but have joined Federer in dominating tennis over the last 20 years, winning 61 Grand Slam titles between them.
Federer, 40, looks the closest of the three to retiring and is set to drop off the rankings this summer as he has been inactive for a year.
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He is currently recovering from a third knee operation and looks poised to return at the Laver Cup in September.
Serena Williams, 40, is in a similar position having not played since Wimbledon 2021.
Asked about Federer and Williams after seeing Jo Wilfried-Tsonga bid an emotional farewell from tennis at the French Open on Tuesday, seven-time Grand Slam champion Wilander said: “For both Roger and Serena they deserve to play their last match in front of a full stadium at their favourite venue.
“I’m guessing for Federer that would be Wimbledon and for Serena it would be Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York. It will be really important they do.
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“Whether it’s the first round, second round, semi-finals or final, it doesn’t make any difference.
“We would all love to say goodbye and thank them for what they have done because they have inspired the generation playing today, but also players like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic would not be at this level without Roger Federer setting the tone and the same on the women’s side with Serena Williams, maybe the greatest tennis player of all time.
“I would love to see them retire in front of a full crowd – of course I don’t want to see them retire at all, but everyone gets older!”
Federer is currently ranked at No. 47 in the world while Williams is at No. 276.
They will both fall off the world rankings unless they play before Wimbledon, which appears unlikely as there has not been any announcement yet.
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If they return at Wimbledon there will be no ranking points on offer following the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players.
The ATP and WTA acted in response to Wimbledon’s move by stripping the tournament of ranking points. Points are dropped from a player's ranking after 52 weeks.
Federer has won eight of his 20 Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon while seven of Williams’ 23 have been won there.
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