I admit it. I have had a crush on Roger Federer for a long time–and my husband knows it!
People have been asking when he might “retire” for a long time and I wanted him to just keep playing. But Federer has been plagued by injuries and I knew the time was around the corner.
In August, we were able to attend the US Open for the first time. It has been on our bucket list. We bought tickets for opening night months in advance –not knowing that Serena would announce her retirement from competitive tennis. We got to see her play her first match which would have been her last match had she not won! It was an exciting night and one I will always remember.
I wrote a post about what I learned from Serena and how she said she is “evolving away from tennis.” She, too, does not use the word “retirement.”
Since the US Open in August, Roger Federer has evolved away from tennis and he did it his way.
Federer has had injuries and surgeries for the last few years. While he thought he could come back once again, his health would not allow it. He knew it was time. So he played with his major competitor and friend Rafael Nadal in the Laver Cup which is Europe again The World.
There were signs of the Federer of the past, but he and Nadal lost their match. But it was moving how both Federer and Nadal were overtaken with emotions. It was evidence of how hard it is to let go when the career is your identify and you love what you do–even the pain, the highs, and the lows.
Real men do cry. Crying makes them more real. Showing emotion makes anyone seem more authentic, empathetic, and caring. If you did not watch the match or read the commentary, I encourage you to watch these videos and read these articles.
In 2006, author David Foster Wallace wrote a great essay about Roger Federer. If you did not read it, I recommend reading it. And if you read it years ago, it is worth reading again.
These were some of Federer’s parting words:
“I was able to remind myself always on the court again how wonderful this is,” said Federer. “This is not the end-end – life goes on. I’m healthy, I’m happy, everything’s great, and this is just a moment in time.”
Meanwhile, Tom Brady tried retiring and found himself returning to what he knows best and loves–even to the detriment of his marriage. While I am sure there is more to the story, it is further evidence of how difficult it is to let go in order to move on when your identity is so tied to what you do.
If what you do is who you are, then who are you when you don’t do it anymore?
We all have to find an answer to that question.