Roger Federer has spoken about the moment he was snapped holding hands with Rafael Nadal during his emotional final match at the Laver Cup, describing it as a “secret thank you”.
Though Nadal and Federer lost their doubles match, there wasn’t a dry eye in the arena as the reality of Federer’s retirement and completion of his final match sunk in.
The icons have been both rivals and teammates over the years, winning a combined 42 Grand Slam singles titles.
After the match emotions were high with the pair sitting next to each other and crying, with Federer then reaching out to hold Nadal’s hand.
With a photo capturing the moment going viral, Federer told the New York Times the act was a “secret thank you” to Nadal.
“Well, I mean, it was a short moment,” Federer said.
“I think at one point, I was sobbing so hard, and I don’t know, everything was going through my mind about how happy I am to actually experience this moment right there with everybody.
“And I think that’s what was so beautiful about just sitting there, taking it all in while the music was playing, and the focus was maybe more on her (the singer Ellie Goulding). So, you almost forgot that you’re still being taken pictures of.
“I guess at one point, just because obviously I couldn’t speak and the music was there, I guess I just touched him, and I guess it’s maybe a secret thank you.
“I don’t know what it was, but for me, that’s maybe what it was and how it felt and some pictures came out of it. Different ones.
“Not just that one but other ones, too, that were just completely crazy, you know, so with different angles, and I hope to get those because they mean a lot to me.”
The emotional moment comes after the 41-year-old announced his retirement earlier this month.
Though the potential to add more wins to his lengthy list of victories, Federer said he hopes he can continue to play in exhibition matches.
“I think it would be beautiful to somehow have a goodbye exhibition game, you know, and thank the fans, because obviously Laver Cup was already sold out before I knew about retirement,” Federer said.
“A lot of people would have loved to get more tickets and couldn’t, so I just feel maybe it would be nice to have one more or several goodbye exhibitions, but I’m not sure if I could or I should do that now.
“But obviously I would love to play exhibitions down the road, take tennis to new places or take it back to fun places where I had a blast.”
This article first appeared on OverSixty.