Watch: Roger Federer receives standing ovation on return to Centre Court
Roger Federer received a standing ovation as he returned to Wimbledon to lead a celebration to mark 100 years of Centre Court.
Absent from the tournament this year for the first time since 1997 as he continues his recovery from knee surgery, Federer received the biggest cheer in a parade of former champions.
Close to 30 winners of the main singles trophies including Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray stepped out to hearty applause.
Federer has not played a match since losing to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals here 12 months ago but is still targeting a comeback, which looks set to begin at the Laver Cup in London in September.
The 40-year-old said: “I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of matches on this court. It’s great to be here with all the other champions. My biggest wins, my biggest losses. One of my big highlights was walking out here in 2001 with Pete Sampras.
“I hope I can come back one way or another. Of course I’ve missed being here. I knew walking out last year it was going to be a tough year ahead. It’s been a rough year but I’ve been happy at home.”
Organisers might have been apprehensive about the reception three-time singles champion Margaret Court, who has been widely criticised for her views on gay marriage, would receive but, although not as effusive as for many others, there was polite applause.
There were some notable absentees, including seven-time singles champions Pete Sampras and Serena Williams and nine-time winner Martina Navratilova, who has been forced to stay away from the All England Club after testing positive for coronavirus.
Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Steffi Graf, Boris Becker, Maria Sharapova and Virginia Wade were others missing from the parade while 1961 champions Laver and Angela Mortimer could boast the most long-lasting links to Centre Court.
The ceremony ended with another standing ovation for former semi-finalist Barker, who is in her final year of presenting duties for the BBC.
Barker, who has had to deal with many emotional players following final defeats, shed tears of her own on Centre Court at the reception.
“John McEnroe will be sent to Court 17 for going off script but thank you, that really does mean the world to me,” she said.
The 7 players to win ATP titles after saving a match point in 2023: Novak Djokovic, Hubert Hurkacz feature twice
Here is a look at the nine times players saved a match point en route to winning ATP titles in 2023.
Rafael Nadal backed to ‘find the rhythm’ as Roger Federer comeback comparison is made
A former ATP star is optimistic about Rafael Nadal’s comeback and used Roger Federer to illustrate his point.
Novak Djokovic has one big weakness – and here is why his opponents struggle to expose it on court
We look at why Djokovic has always struggled with his overheads at the net and what opponents could do to take advantage of that flaw.
Rising American star picks Novak Djokovic as his dream opponent ‘because he’s the GOAT’
An ATP up-and-comer would love to face Novak Djokovic as he thinks the Serbian is the GOAT.
Novak Djokovic hailed for helping young star in ‘wonderful act of kindness’ by former top pro
Novak Djokovic has been praised for his generosity by a top coach and former ATP star.
‘I still have faith in seeing Rafael Nadal win another Roland Garros title’, says former ATP star
Rafael Nadal has been backed to triumph at the French Open one last time by a former competitor.
The 13 youngest ATP Tour title winners in 2023: Carlos Alcaraz 2nd, Holger Rune 3rd
The “new Big Three” of Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Holger Rune are on the youngest champions in 2023 list.
Cameron Norrie exclusive on his biggest lesson from 2023 and why he believes he can become world No 1
Lexus ambassador Cameron Norrie looks back on a year that has highs and lows for a player who has ambitions to reach the very top.
Emma Raducanu’s special ranking won’t give her entry into Australian Open main draw so what next?
Emma Raducanu’s special ranking is not good enough for entry into the main draw of the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic’s iconic racket is sold at auction and the price exceeds all expectations
The racket has been put up for sale on the SCP auction site, with an expectation that it would sell for a fee in excess of $50,000.