Roger Federer will play his last tennis match at the Laver Cup in London next week.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner, who has been struggling with a knee problem for the last three years, made his retirement announcement on social media.
He told his fans he “must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career”.
Federer and Williams have been clear about their admiration for each other during their respective careers, and were particularly effusive during a joint interview at the Hopman Cup in 2019.
Touching interview with Serena Williams and Roger Federer
The pair had just come up against each other in a competitive match for the first time ever, with Federer and Belinda Bencic emerging triumphant from the mixed doubles rubber.
When asked about the occasion, Williams found it impossible to contain her excitement.
“It was super cool that we got to do it, at such a pinnacle point in both our careers,” she enthused.
“For me, it was super cool. Literally wanting to take pictures. I wanted to bring my baby out. Like way too excited. But it was really fun.”
Federer then raved about Williams, complimenting her serve in particular.
“Well, I was nervous returning, because you just don’t know. People talk about her serve so much, and I see why it is such a wonderful serve, because you just can’t read it.
“It was a bit nerve wracking to be honest, because all of a sudden you’re serving, especially the last serve, I’m like, ‘I’ve got to win this point but it’s Serena Williams!’
“I was telling myself, maybe this is what I’ve always wanted, the big moments like this. I made the serve but actually totally missed the target, and thank you for missing the ball.
“But it was great fun and yeah, she’s a great champion. You see how focused and determined she is and I love that about her.”
Video: Watch brilliant interview with Serena Williams and Roger Federer
Williams then returned the favour, showering Federer with compliments.
“Well, I mean, the guy is great. I mean, he’s the greatest of all time, to be honest. On the court and off the court, he has such charisma. He’s just a wonderful player.
“I think his serve is super underestimated, he has a killer serve. Literally, you can’t read it and there’s a reason why he’s the greatest. You can’t be that great and not have such an awesome weapon like that serve.
I watched him all the time, but I never knew how amazing it was. So it was really cool to kind of learn, hopefully I can get some tips later on how to get a little better, but it was really impressive.”
Roger Federer’s retirement announcement
“To my tennis family and beyond,” Federer said in a letter penned to his fans.
“Of all the gifts that tennis has given me over the years, the greatest, without a doubt, has been the people I’ve met along the way: my friends, my competitors, and most of all the fans who give the sport its life. Today, I want to share some news with all of you.
“As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries. I’ve worked hard to return to full competitive form.
“But I also know my body’s capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear. I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years.
“Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career.”