In recent times, two international tennis players — Roger Federer and Serena Williams — have said, one in direct terms and the other somewhat less clearly, that they would be retiring from the game.
Federer was the more recent to make an announcement saying in unambiguous language that he would retire after the Laver Cup. He has 20 Grand Slam titles to his name and has never been a man who is obsessed by collecting titles.
Williams, on the other hand, has been hanging around since 2017 in an elusive search for a 24th Grand Slam title to equal the record of Margaret Court.
Over the five years since she won her 23rd title, Williams has been ejected from tournaments at every stage, humiliated time and again by players from different countries, some of whom were not even born when she began her career.
Yet even now, she is unwilling to say that she is quitting the game, rather choosing to say that she was “evolving”.
Exactly what one is expected to read into that is unclear, apart from concluding that Williams is still enamoured of Court’s record, and is leaving the door ajar to popping up again at the 2023 Australian Open.
Federer has been a great ambassador for the game, a man who has displayed class and breeding, a player who is known for his grace on the court. He is liked across the board and he has always been a sportsman to the core.
But then he is also a master of his craft. He adds something to every tournament in which he plays, never belittling his opponents, never losing his temper, and allowing his racquet to do the talking. And speak it does, in pretty eloquent tones.
Williams is a poor loser. Every time she is beaten it is put down to her having a bad day. Never is the victor given credit for the win. I have documented her attitude over the years, wondering at every turn why someone who has accumulated so many titles should continue humiliating herself by losing over and over.
It is in keeping with her approach to the game that she is still unwilling to openly call it a day. It is a poor end to her time in the sport.