Roger Federer won’t make a guest appearance at this year’s Australian Open as the retired former champion has declined an invite to attend the season-opening Grand Slam.
The final curtain fell on the 20-time major champion’s tennis career in September as he bowed out of the sport following a doubles defeat alongside his great rival Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup.
Federer, though, remains one of the most popular figures in the sporting world and Tennis Australia was hoping the six-time Australian Open champion would grace the Melbourne Park crowds with his presence this year.
However, the 41-year-old fan favourite – who won the tournament in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017 and 2018 – turned down the opportunity and organisers has already shifted their sights to 2024, which will mark the 20th anniversary of Federer’s first title in Melbourne.
“The welcome mat will always be rolled out for Roger,” a Tennis Australia (TA) official told The Age.
Federer’s last appearance as a professional at the Australian Open was in 2020 when he lost in the semi-final against eventual champion Novak Djokovic, struggling with a knee he sustained earlier in the tournament.
He missed the 2021 and 2022 editions due to the same knee problem he picked up in 2020 and the injury eventually forced him to retire last year.
It is not the first time that Federer has opted to skip an event following his retirement as he also declined to attend a farewell ceremony at his home tournament, the Swiss Indoors in Basel, in October as he felt it was “too soon” after the Laver Cup celebrations.
The tennis great, though, has been keeping busy since hanging up his racket as he has attended various sponsorship engagements – including trips to the Rolex headquarters in Geneva, Uniqlo in Japan – while he also visited Wimbledon, took in an NBA game in Brooklyn and attended the The Daily Show With Trevor Noah in New York.
Federer admitted during his visit to Uniqlo that he was “feeling lighter” following his retirement, saying: “As a tennis player you’re always thinking about your next practice, your next match. It never lets you go, your next travel, your next packing.
“I don’t think I was that much aware of it, how much that thought is always there, and it rides with you, until you retire and then you realise that stress all drops away.
“Doping as an example. We have to fill out doping forms every single day, one hour during the day, where you are. You’re always aware in the back of your head, they could be coming any moment, especially in that hour.
“Once that all drops away you actually feel lighter, relieved that you can actually live normally again after 25 years.”
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