You may have seen, even if you’re not a sports fan, or a fan of tennis in particular, that Roger Federer played his last match yesterday. (Serena Williams played her last match in the US Open a few weeks ago as well!) And it’s been a surprisingly emotional ending to witness and reflect about.
To think of tennis is to think of my brother. His favorite player was Rafael Nadal, mine Roger Federer. Last night the two of them played together in Federer’s last professional match of tennis. It was clearly very emotional for them, and something to see.
Matthew and I saw Roger Federer (and Serena, among a few others) play in Cincinnati back in 2015. It was a special trip for him and me to do together. I even used the hashtag #brotriptocinci on Instagram for the photos I posted from the trip.
To see Roger Federer crying after his match, holding hands with his greatest competitor Nadal, it emblematized something deep inside me with my relationship to my brother. What an image, what a scene. I think for anyone who has followed them at all, it may be impossible not to be emotionally stirred by that scene.
I went on a run this morning for a while, and then I walked around campus enjoying the cooled autumn air. I spoke aloud to my brother for the first time. I haven’t done that since I was in the hospital room with him back in January of 2021. I’m not sure exactly why it’s this that caused me to speak aloud to him. But it was.
“Hey Matthew. I’m not sure if you are aware of this sort of thing, but Federer played his last match of tennis last night. He played with Nadal. It was a special thing. I wish you were here so we could talk about it.”
That trip to Cinci was special for me. Looking back on it now, I can see I did truly appreciate it at the time to for what it was. And lightens my heart a bit. I didn’t take that trip for granted. I loved every minute of it.
Our car broke down. We stayed with our sister and brother and law, we played tennis at night with one of my oldest friends, we had good food, we saw good tennis, we hung out as brothers. Something I only imagined when I was a kid. It was happening, and that was so cool to me.
To see Roger Federer retire stirs up that horrible feeling of the finality of it all. That these are the sorts of things I’ll never be able to do with my brother again. Roger Federer will also never again play a professional match of tennis.
Time marches on.