PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — For some, the news of tennis legend Roger Federer retiring may not hit close to home, but for Roger Scott Tennis Center director Brock Sakey, it is a bittersweet moment.

“It really is a bittersweet moment, because in a way, you’re excited that he gets to end things on his terms,” said Sakey. “At the same time, selfishly, it seemed like he was never going to retire. The way he played the game so effortlessly and with such grace, you just didn’t know how long he could keep going. It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling.”

The University of Central Florida grad said growing up, he remembers seeing Federer on TV.

“He’s been in the game for so long that I remember every single one of his biggest matches,” said Sakey. “Normally, an athlete retires and to me, it doesn’t feel different, but Federer is a generational player that really changed the way people look at tennis.”

Sakey’s father, Brian, was a tennis pro at Roger Scott Tennis Center for three and a half decades, coaching hundreds of players and having Court 22 named after him. Sakey said before he passed away from cancer, Federer wrote his father a note and sent him a signed racket.

“He wrote a handwritten note saying ‘Brian, I hope to play on your court one day, keep fighting the good fight,” said Sakey. “He doesn’t have to do that stuff, even though it probably took him like two minutes, but when you’re one of the most famous athletes in the world, he just made everybody feel important.”

While one tennis legend steps down, Sakey said a new league of players is inspiring the next generation of kids.

“I think there are always people that these kids can look up to and I think that is what makes tennis fun,” said Sakey. “If you’re looking at an American, I mean, Frances Tiafoe made the semi-finals of the U.S. Open last week and made a huge impact on American tennis. I do think Fed’s style and grace on the court is going to be unmatched. I truly believe he is the most talented player of all time.”

Federer announced his retirment on Twitter, saying his farewell event will be the Laver Cup in London next week. That is a team event run by his management company.

Federer’s last match anywhere came on July 7, 2021, when he lost at Centre Court in the Wimbledon quarterfinals to Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-0.

Soon after, Federer had surgery to repair damage to his meniscus and cartilage in his right knee, which was his third knee operation in a span of one and a half years.

Over his career, Federer has won 20 Grand Slam titles, with the all-time record for Grand Slam wins at 369. He is also one of two players to have won more than 100 ATP titles at 103, trailing only Jimmy Connors’ 109.

Stay ahead of the biggest stories, breaking news and weather in Mobile, Pensacola and across the Gulf Coast and Alabama. Download the WKRG News 5 news app and be sure to turn on push alerts.