Photographer Ella Ling recently went down memory lane to relive Roger Federer's retirement night on September 23 during the 2022 Laver Cup at O2 Arena in London.
Federer competed for the last time on the court with Rafael Nadal. The duo represented Team Europe against Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe from Team World. The latter pair emerged victorious 4-6, 6-7(2), [9-11] in the tightly fought contest.
The Swiss hugged his Team Europe mates, including Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas. He broke down in tears soon after, alongside Nadal, who was inconsolable as well.
The emotional scenes went viral around the globe as the 20-time Grand Slam champion walked out of the court as a tennis player one final time. Ella Ling, a freelance photographer, captured those moments with her lens.
One of her several frames snapped former arch-rivals Federer and Nadal holding hands while sobbing.
Exactly a year after, Ling took to social media and wrote:
"One year ago tonight, I took these [photos]... first time I have gone through them all since that night in London. Never has the word 'scenes' been more apt."
"It was never supposed to be that way" - Roger Federer said in his farewell speech
After the match, Roger Federer walked up to Jim Courier for his final on-court interview. He claimed that it was a moment of joy for him, saying:
"It has been a wonderful day. I told the guys, ‘I’m happy. I’m not sad.’ So, it feels great to be here. I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time and everything was the last time."
The 20-time Grand Slam champion further acknowledged his Team Europe mates, including Rafael Nadal, and said:
"And of course, playing with Rafael Nadal on the same team. And then of course being on the team with Andy [Murray], Thomas [Enqvist], Novak [Djokovic], Matteo [Berrettini], Cam [Bjorn Borg], Stefanos [Tsitsipas], and Casper [Ruud]."
Federer reiterated it felt like a celebration and added it was not supposed to end the way it did.
"And it does feel like a celebration to me. I wanted to feel like this at the end, and it’s exactly what I hoped for so thank you. It was never supposed to be that way. I was just happy to play tennis and spend time with my friends, really," he said.
"And then I ended up here. It’s been a perfect journey. I would do it all over again," he said before breaking down again.