WTA world number one Iga Swiatek thanked Roger Federer for "everything you've done and everything you are for our sport" after the Swiss great announced his retirement.

Federer confirmed on Thursday that he would bring his illustrious playing career to a close after the Laver Cup.

The 41-year-old will bow out with 20 grand slam titles to his name, a feat bettered by only two male players – Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Swiatek, meanwhile, won her third major title last week, defeating Ons Jabeur in straight sets to clinch the US Open, following her successes at Roland Garros in 2020 and earlier this year.

"I just want to thank you for everything you've done and everything you are for our sport," 21-year-old Swiatek tweeted in response to Federer's announcement.

"It's been a privilege to witness your career. I wish you all the best." 

Swiatek followed her post with a goat emoji, signifying that Federer is the greatest of all time.

Chris Evert, a former world number one, also joined the tributes to Federer, tweeting: "He was the epitome of a champion; class, grace, humility, beloved by everyone…and he elegantly mastered the sport like no other…Good luck to you, @rogerfederer don't go too far!"

Martina Navratilova, an 18-time major winner, posted: "What a heartfelt message, full of love, life, hope, passion and gratitude. Which is exactly how Roger played the game we love so much. Thank you thank you thank you, for all the magic!!!"

Serena Williams will go out with "full force" when she begins her final US Open campaign before retiring, according to Chris Evert.

Williams will have one last chance to match Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 grand slam singles titles at Flushing Meadows, as well as an opportunity to wave goodbye to her adoring fans on home soil.

While a challenge for the trophy looks highly improbable for Williams this time around, fellow six-time US Open winner Evert suspects the 40-year-old will take some shifting from the draw.

According to Evert, "the edge is off" when it comes to Williams and her remaining tennis goals, meaning she has reconciled herself to the likelihood of finishing her career with 23 singles majors.

Williams has revealed family matters and business interests were key to her decision to "evolve away" from the sport, and with her on-court returns diminishing, now seems the time to head in that direction.

Yet Evert can see Williams, who faces Danka Kovinic in round one in New York, giving a good account of herself during her US Open swansong.

"Serena isn't coming out to play her last match; she's coming out with full force," Evert said on ESPN. 

"The way she's been practising this week, she's here to compete, she's here to win, and I don't even think she's thinking about retirement at this stage."

Williams holds a 106-14 win-loss record in singles at the US Open. Her match wins tally at Flushing Meadows is the highest by any woman at the competition in the Open Era, and only Martina Navratilova has more at a single slam, achieving an astonishing 120 victories at Wimbledon.

Williams and Evert lead the way in women's US Open titles in the professional era (since 1968), and regardless of final grand slam tallies, there will always be debate over who ranks as the greatest player of all time.

Williams certainly has a strong case, yet Navratilova (1,442), Evert (1,309) and Steffi Graf (900) all won more WTA-level matches than Williams (856), who often played a limited schedule.

Court has the most grand slam titles on the women's all-time list, with a remarkable haul of 64 when women's doubles and mixed doubles are included. Navratilova is next with 59, before Williams and Billie Jean King sit joint third with 39 majors apiece.

Scheduling self-preservation has allowed Williams to play on for so long, and John McEnroe has raised the question of what might happen if his fellow American surprises herself by clinching a seventh Flushing Meadows triumph. 

"If she did happen to win this, don't you think it'd be tempting to go and break the record?" McEnroe asked.

Four-time US Open singles champion McEnroe added: "I think she's accepting, as much as Serena Williams can, that she's not going to win this.

"Maybe deep down she's found some sort of belief that maybe somehow, if she gets the right set of situations going, she can make a real run."

More realistic, in McEnroe's mind, is the prospect of Williams and sister Venus having a deep run in the doubles after they were handed a wildcard.

As a partnership, the siblings have won 14 grand slam doubles titles, never losing in a final at the majors.

"The two of them in doubles, where they're covering half the court and they're still able to do their thing, that would be a hell of a way to go out," McEnroe said.

Martina Navratilova said she was "gutted" to miss Wimbledon's Centre Court centenary celebration after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

The nine-time champion was absent from a parade of champions, and in a series of posts on social media she explained why she had to sit it out.

Past winners were introduced to the main show court's middle Sunday crowd, with the one-time champions going first, all the way through to eight-time Wimbledon king Roger Federer.

Navratilova would have come out last of all, as the most successful singles player in Wimbledon history, but she was unable to take part. Including doubles, Navratilova won 20 slam titles at Wimbledon.

"Unfortunately I will miss it as I just tested positive this morning," she wrote on Twitter shortly before the ceremony. "Am so bummed!!!! I am gutted I can't be there."

Confirming she had the coronavirus, Navratilova wrote: "Yup, got it here for sure… oh well. So wanted to be on that court with so many champions of our sport."

Asked how she was feeling, the 65-year-old Czech-born American added: "Not too bad so far- wouldn't want to play tennis but ok… fingers crossed."

A host of greats of the game delighted the crowd, with stars of the women's tour including Navratilova's former great rivals Chris Evert and Billie Jean King, along with Margaret Court and Venus Williams, while Federer was joined by a field of fellow men's superstars that included Rod Laver, Novak Djokovic, Stefan Edberg, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

Three-time former champion Boris Becker was another notable absentee, after the German was jailed in April for offences relating to his 2017 bankruptcy. Seven-time winner Serena Williams also missed the event, after her first-round defeat.

Navratilova has been working at Wimbledon during the championships, notably appearing as a member of the BBC broadcast team.

Rafael Nadal fended off a second early test of his Wimbledon mettle as he took four sets to see off Ricardas Berankis on Thursday.

Just as in his opener against Francisco Cerundolo, Nadal dropped the third set of this match, but he regrouped, as he had two days earlier, to finish it in four.

A 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory for the 36-year-old will do the job for round two, but it was laboured at times on Centre Court from Nadal, a day after title favourite Novak Djokovic delivered a masterclass against Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Australian Open and French Open champion Nadal sealed it with an ace, his 16th consecutive win in a grand slam match, and the lack of polish at this early stage can be forgiven, given his lack of preparation on grass as he underwent treatment on his troublesome foot.

World number 106 Berankis forced breaks to lead early in the second and third sets, and although the Lithuanian was pegged back quickly enough by Nadal on the first occasion, he held his nerve to take the third set.

A rain delay came when Nadal was 3-0 clear in the fourth set, and that was only an inconvenience, Nadal wasting little time in finishing the job.

With Matteo Berrettini and Roberto Bautista Agut both pulling out of Nadal's half of the draw due to COVID-19, and Denis Shapovalov losing on Thursday to Brandon Nakashima after reaching the semi-finals last year, it is hard to see who might deny the Spanish two-time champion a place in the final, unless Nick Kyrgios or Stefanos Tsitsipas fancy the task. Italian Lorenzo Sonego will be the next to try.

Nadal said: "Every day is a challenge. That's the truth. I didn't play much on grass in the last three years. I need to improve, but I think the fourth set was much better. I think it was a good level of tennis in that set and the serve worked much better at the end of the match and I was able to play more aggressive, while at the beginning there were too many mistakes.

"It's important for me to accept things are not perfect and just keep working, be humble and accept the challenge."

Data slam: Going past Martina

Nadal took his total of singles grand slam wins to 307 with this victory, taking him one ahead of Martina Navratilova, the nine-time Wimbledon champion.

He moves up to fourth place on the all-time list for singles wins in the majors, behind only Roger Federer, who leads the way, Serena Williams and Djokovic.

Nadal of course leads the men's slam race with an unmatched 22 slams.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 35/39
Berankis – 35/35

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 13/4
Berankis – 3/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 4/16
Berankis – 2/5

Naomi Osaka's shock withdrawal from the French Open generated an outpouring of support across the tennis world and beyond. 

The four-time grand slam winner pulled out of Roland Garros on Monday, a day after tournament organisers said her continued refusal to attend mandatory press conferences could result in her being thrown out of the event.

Osaka said in a statement posted to social media that she has had bouts of depression since winning the US Open in 2018 and never intended for her stance to become a distraction. 

Monday's action in Paris had mostly been completed when the news broke, but Serena Williams shared her thoughts following an evening match. 

Williams acknowledged feeling anxious dealing with the press at times early in her career, but said she believed the experience made her stronger. 

Top of mind, however, was concern for Osaka. 

"The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi. I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it's like," Williams said.

"We have different personalities, and people are different. Not everyone is the same. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently.

"You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to, in the best way she thinks she can, and that's the only thing I can say. I think she's doing the best that she can."

Osaka's fellow players and others took to social media with encouraging messages for the 23-year-old. 

Venus Williams wrote on Instagram: "So proud of you. Take care of yourself and see you back winning soon!"

Young American star Coco Gauff responded to Osaka's tweet by writing "stay strong ... I admire your vulnerability." 

A pair of tennis legends also weighed in on Twitter. 

"I am so sad about Naomi Osaka. I truly hope she will be ok," Martina Navratilova wrote.

"As athletes we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental and emotional aspect gets short shrift.

"This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference. Good luck Naomi - we are all pulling for you!"

Billie Jean King added: "It’s incredibly brave that Naomi Osaka has revealed her truth about her struggle with depression. Right now, the important thing is that we give her the space and time she needs. We wish her well."

Mardy Fish, the former ATP player who reached number seven in the world, wrote to Osaka: "Mental health is nothing to criticise. Nothing to joke about. Pls [sic] take your mental health seriously. Without my support system, I truly believe I would not be here today. Here for you."

That public show of support extended beyond tennis, as prominent NFL and NBA players praised Osaka for her courage. 

"We are with you," said Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

NBA star Stephen Curry wrote: "You shouldn't ever have to make a decison like this - but so damn impressive taking the high road when the powers that be don't protect their own. Major respect."

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