Roger Federer is hopeful he will return to Wimbledon next year with the Swiss legend still recovering from a third knee operation as he is given a rapturous reception at SW19’s Centre Court centenary ceremony
- Wimbledon Centre Court centenary ceremony took place on Sunday
- Several former champions were on show, including Britain’s Andy Murray
- Roger Federer was the final person to walk out and is targeting one more run
- Federer is hopeful he can return to Wimbledon next year after knee problems
They saved the biggest cheer until last.
Sue Barker and John McEnroe had already welcomed 25 former Wimbledon champions onto the green carpet for Centre Court’s centenary ceremony.
But when Roger Federer was introduced as the final guest and walked out through the new central double doors, 15,000 fans rose as one to mark the return of the record eight-time winner.
Roger Federer receives a hero’s welcome when he made his way onto centre court on Sunday
The eight-time champion was joined by several other former winners, including John McEnroe
The Swiss has not been seen on a court since his humbling defeat to Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in last year’s quarter-finals, which included his first ever bagel at Wimbledon.
However, Federer is due to make his return from a third knee operation in September at the Laver Cup at the O2 in London. And speaking to the crowd on Centre Court, the 40-year-old vowed to try and be back on his favourite stage next year.
‘I hope I can come back one more time,’ said Federer, who is missing from the main singles draw for the first time since 1998. ‘Of course I have missed being here, I would have loved to have been here.
‘I knew walking out here last year it was going to be a tough year ahead. I maybe didn’t think it was going to take me this long to come back, but the knee has been rough on me.
Former British and world men’s number one Andy Murray also made an appearance
Federer greeted the crowd alongside long-time rival and six-time champions Novak Djokovic
‘But I’ve been happy at home. It’s been a good year regardless of tennis or not. The kids are fine, my wife is great, we are happy at home.
‘I’ve travelled so much for so many years. I didn’t know if I should make the trip but I’m happy standing here, right here, right now.’
Federer admitted he felt ‘awkward’ stood on Centre Court in a suit, where he was joined by legends including six-time champions Novak Djokovic and Billie Jean King, and five-time winners Bjorn Borg and Venus Williams.
Rod Laver, who has four titles, and Britain’s double champion Andy Murray were also part of the parade, which included 26 players with 66 trophies between them.
Legendary host Sue Barker was reduced to tears as her final Wimbledon nears its conclusion
But Martina Navratilova, who holds the record of women’s singles wins with nine, had to withdraw after testing positive for Covid-19. ‘I am gutted I can’t be there,’ she tweeted. ‘I am looking at Centre Court from my window.’
The ceremony included a surprise appearance from Sir Cliff Richard, who sang ‘Summer Holiday’ from the stands, just like he famously did during a rain break in 1996.
And it ended with a huge standing ovation for outgoing BBC host Sue Barker, who was brought to tears by the impromptu reception after McEnroe told her: ‘We are going to be lost without you.’