Roger Federer: A Graceful Farewell in “Twelve Final Days

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

In men’s tennis, there’s always a debate about who is the greatest player of all time. Is it Novak Djokovic with his 24 Grand Slam titles, Rafael Nadal with his 14 French Open wins, Roger Federer with 20 Grand Slam victories, or an older legend like Rod Laver who won all four Grand Slam titles in one year twice? Each player’s achievements spark endless discussions among fans.

Even though people argue about who the greatest is, many agree that Roger Federer played the game with unmatched grace and beauty. Known for his smooth and effortless style, Federer announced his retirement in 2022 after more than 20 years of defining the sport. This news was met with both sadness and appreciation from tennis fans.

A documentary called “Federer: Twelve Final Days” captures Federer’s retirement from professional tennis. Directed by Oscar winner Asif Kapadia and Joe Sabia, the film premiered at the Tribeca Festival and will be available on Prime Video. It focuses on Federer’s retirement, showcasing his graceful exit from the sport.

Joe Sabia, who had interviewed Federer for Vogue’s “73 Questions,” had a memorable experience with him. This connection led Sabia to film Federer in Switzerland during his retirement announcement in 2022, capturing the emotions and significance of the moment.

In his farewell message on Instagram on September 15, 2022, Federer talked about the challenges he faced in recent years, including injuries and surgeries. He acknowledged his body’s limitations, leading to his decision to retire from competitive tennis.

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Initially, the plan was for Sabia to create a short documentary, but the project grew when Kapadia got involved. Kapadia, initially unsure about joining, was deeply moved by the footage Sabia had shot and decided to participate. Their collaboration enriched the documentary, combining their perspectives and storytelling styles.

Kapadia’s involvement fits into his history of making documentaries about notable figures like Amy Winehouse, Ayrton Senna, and Diego Maradona. Unlike those films, which used only archival footage, “Federer: Twelve Final Days” includes on-camera interviews with Federer, his family, and other tennis legends like John McEnroe and Björn Borg.

The documentary’s title refers to the period between Federer’s retirement announcement and his final match at the Laver Cup in London, where he played doubles with Rafael Nadal. This event highlights Federer’s sportsmanship and his bond with rivals like Nadal. The film captures the emotional farewell, showing the impact of Federer’s departure on the tennis community and the inevitability of time for all athletes.

As tennis stars like Nadal and Andy Murray are nearing the end of their careers, the documentary’s message hits home even more. Kapadia mentions a powerful line from the film: “Athletes die twice,” once when they retire and once at the end of their lives, which captures the emotional weight of leaving the sport. Federer himself says that watching the film feels like seeing his own funeral repeatedly, offering a deeply personal look at his transition from an active player to a retired legend.

“Federer: Twelve Final Days” is more than just about Federer’s retirement; it also explores identity and legacy. It invites viewers to think about their own important attachments and the impact of losing something crucial to their identity. Federer’s amazing career and his graceful farewell highlight his lasting influence in tennis.