WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Roger Federer received a standing ovation of 1 1/2 minutes from spectators including Princess Kate as he entered the Royal Box at Centre Court on Tuesday, when he was celebrated during a brief ceremony for his career and his men’s-record eight singles championships at Wimbledon.
Wearing a cream-colored suit with his purple All England Club member’s pin attached to a lapel, along with a striped shirt and polka-dot tie, the retired Federer walked to his seat and stood between his wife, Mirka, and the Princess of Wales in the special section above one of the baselines in the Grand Slam tournament’s main stadium.
Federer waved and tapped his chest, repeatedly saying, “Thank you,” as the applause and roars cascaded under the closed retractable roof on a rainy Day 2 at the grass-court event that he once dominated.
Before the start of play at Centre Court, an announcer explained that Federer was being honored for “his contributions to tennis — and, particularly, to these very special lawns.”
Federer, who turns 42 on Aug. 8, announced his retirement at the end of last year following a series of knee operations.
The last match of his career was a quarterfinal loss to Hubert Hurkacz at the All England Club in 2021.
The ceremony Tuesday included a video highlight reel that showed clips of Federer playing, winning and speaking at Wimbledon, where he won the first of his 20 career Grand Slam titles in 2003. That was the start of a run of five in a row that stretched through 2007, followed by additional championships there in 2009, 2012 and 2017.
Novak Djokovic, who won his first-round match on Monday, is trying to equal Federer this year by winning a fifth consecutive trophy and eighth overall at Wimbledon. Martina Navratilova, who won the women’s singles title nine times, holds the overall record at the tournament.
“When I stop, the tournament still lives on. The tournament is bigger than any player who’s ever lived,” a younger Federer said in an interview shown during the film Tuesday. “I really look forward to the day where I retire and I can come back and just have tea time, you know, on the terrace.”
The video was interspersed with shots of various players speaking glowingly of Federer.
“Roger is legend. He makes every shot look easy,” 2022 Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur said. Alex de Minaur spoke of Federer’s “masterful elegance on a tennis court.” Taylor Fritz called him an “inspiration,” Coco Gauff used the word “icon,” and current women’s No. 1 Iga Swiatek labeled Federer a “really special player.”