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Why Roger Federer wasn’t at Andy Murray’s Wimbledon farewell

WIMBLEDON — Andy Murray’s emotional Centre Court send-off will be remembered for years to come. One lingering question though was on many people’s lips: where was Roger Federer?

Murray was treated to a guard of honour on Thursday in the arena he claimed his greatest triumphs. His British No 1 predecessor Tim Henman was on court, as were compatriots Jack Draper, Dan Evans and Cam Norrie.

World No 1 Iga Swiatek, and former Wimbledon champions like Conchita Martinez, Lleyton Hewitt, Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe gave him a standing ovation on court too.

They all watched while a touching montage video played, recalling Murray’s career highlights and lowlights, narrated in part by five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams and the so-called “Big Three”: Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

But of those three rivals, only Djokovic was on court to embrace Murray in person.

Admittedly, Djokovic is the only one actually playing the tournament this year. Nadal was absent, as he is currently in Greece at his tennis academy, training on the clay ahead of his upcoming appearance at the Swedish Open in Bastad next week and Paris Olympics next month.

However, retiree Federer’s decision to opt out of the ceremony on Centre Court was more curious, as he had been onsite at the All England Club on Thursday.

He was pictured earlier in the day arriving on the grounds, where he was attending as a Rolex guest, and was even filmed walking within the clubhouse and bumping into Caroline Wozniacki as she readied to walk out onto Centre Court after the Murray brothers’ match.

But when the former champions and players walked onto the Centre Court to share in Murray’s moment, Federer was nowhere to be seen.

Wimbledon tournament director Jamie Baker confirmed to the press on Friday morning that Federer had shared a private word with Murray behind the scenes on Thursday.

“He went and saw Andy before the match. They had a good chat,” Baker said. “The player thing [at the ceremony] was the most fluid part of our plan, obviously with matches going on and the weather we didn’t know how that was going to work out so we made a last minute decision to get some of those players on the court which I think actually made quite a nice addition to the celebration, I think Andy really appreciated that as well.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Sue Barker stands with Andy Murray of Great Britain as they watch a farewell message from Roger Federer following his defeat in the Gentlemen???s Doubles first round match with Jamie Murray against Rinky Hijikata and John Peers of Australia during day four of The Championships Wimbledon 2024 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 04, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Sue Barker stands with Andy Murray as they watch a farewell message from Roger Federer (Photo: Getty)

Two years ago, Federer was on Centre Court for the centenary celebrations alongside other great Wimbledon champions and he was treated to a standing ovation and video montage of his own last year, while sat as a guest in the Royal Box with his family.

Baker could not confirm whether Federer might be involved in any potential future tributes that might be arranged for Murray, including after his final event at Wimbledon in the mixed doubles with Emma Raducanu.

“I don’t know, I’m not sure how long Roger is staying for,” Baker said. “The point is, I’m really delighted we could give Andy the send-off on Centre Court like we did last night.

“The schedule for the mixed doubles is fluid and I think it’s a bonus that wherever they are playing, the British public are going to give him a great send-off. We’ll see how the next few days play out.”

One person who was in attendance on Thursday was Sue Barker, who made a surprise appearance to interview Murray on Centre Court.

It was a fitting element to this tribute, as Barker conducted all the on-court interviews with Murray when he lost the 2012 final at Wimbledon and both times he lifted the trophy in 2013 and 2016.

Though Barker stepped down from her role as the BBC’s lead presenter at Wimbledon back in 2022, she was convinced to step out of retirement for this special moment.

“It was a big team effort that one,” Baker said. “We’ve been thinking about this for months and trying to really do a tribute that was focused on Andy and what would be fitting for his achievements and Sue, with the history they’ve had and the experiences, she was the obvious choice for us so we picked up the phone ages ago and she was obviously delighted to do it.”

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