Tennis legend Mats Wilander believes a Wimbledon return for Roger Federer is dependant on him competing at the highest level once again. Federer made a triumphant return to Wimbledon on Sunday as he joined his fellow tennis legends on Centre Court as part of the iconic stadium’s centenary celebration on Middle Sunday.
The tennis legend has not played since last year’s edition of The Championships and will no doubt fight to compete at the prestigious event at least one more time. This is a view held by Wilander and he thinks Federer will be successful in his attempt to mount another comeback from knee surgery.
However, he believes that will depend on whether the Swiss Maestro thinks he can still compete at the highest level with the likes of great rival Novak Djokovic. The Eurosport analyst said: “I don’t think Federer is going to come back unless he feels that he has a level where he can compete with most guys on tour.
“Does he have it inside of him in his confidence to go out on the centre court at Wimbledon and play Novak Djokovic next year in the quarters and feel like he has a chance? That’s again, something that I don’t think he knows. I’m pretty convinced that we will see him. If there’s any chance physically, I’m very, very hopeful that we will see him play another Wimbledon and maybe even more than that.”
The Swede compared Federer’s situation to that of fellow icon Serena Williams, who returned at Wimbledon last week after a year off the tour and is just happy to enjoy the twilight phase of her career. He added: “Now that we’ve seen Serena come out and actually say that ‘I never thought of retirement, I’m just enjoying playing’, I’m here to win another Slam or I’m not. I’m just here to win the match that I’m involved in and enjoy the process.
“I enjoy practising and I’m healthy. It’s sort of the same attitude as when you’re 18 years old. Serena now has when she’s 40 years old that I’m sure Federer is going to come back with the same thing.” On Sunday, Federer himself Federer even hinted that his final Wimbledon appearance may come next year.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of matches on this court. It feels awkward to be here today in a different type of role,” Federer said. “It’s great to be here with all the other champions. This court has given me my biggest wins and my biggest losses. I hope I can come back one more time. I’ve missed it 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 this long to come back – the knee has been rough on me.”
Wilander also paid tribute to the longevity of Federer, who was still competing in grand slam finals and sitting inside the world’s top four well into his late 30s. “I think his biggest achievement so far is the dominance that he had early on as soon as he won his first major,” he said. “The dominance he had towards Leighton Hewitt, Marat Saffin, Andy Roddick, Juan Carlos Ferrero, who were all great players.
“I think the big thing for me, the biggest accomplishment is him coming back and winning three majors from 2017. He hadn’t won four, five or six years and then suddenly wins the Australian, Wimbledon and then the Australian again in 2018. And there’s nearly no players in the history of the game that have been able to keep up with the generation that’s knocking on the door because the game moves in one direction.”