To mark the 100th anniversary of the famous stadium, Wimbledon invited a host of former champions to watch the day’s tennis – which now takes place on mid-Sunday, previously a rest day – and they were welcomed onto the pitch to roaring cheers from the crowd.
Sue Barker, who presented her last Wimbledon for the BBC, took on the task of inviting some of tennis’ biggest names onto the court alongside John McEnroe.
The likes of Andy Murray, Pat Cash, reigning men’s champion Novak Djokovic, Billie Jean King, Venus Williams, Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver and many more were all in attendance, while even Cliff Richard gave another rendition of Summer Holiday at the celebrations.
But the biggest celebration of the afternoon was reserved for Federer, who was unable to take part in the tournament this year for the first time in 23 years – since his debut in 1999.
The 40-year-old was struggling with a knee problem that required surgery after last year’s tournament and is still working his way back to fitness, although he hopes to be sooner next time he’s back at Wimbledon his whites will wear a suit.
When asked about his memories of playing on Center Court – and whether he would play on it again – Federer said: “I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of games on this court, it feels awkward to be here today with others kind of role!
“But it’s great to be here with all the other champions and this place has given me my biggest wins and my biggest losses.
“One of my highlights was traveling here in 2001 with Pete Sampras – who I want to give a big shout out to, he’s also someone who inspired a lot of us to play and try to be successful here too and the to represent sport Good.
“I hope I’ve done that, and I hope – like you said – I can come back.”
He continued: “Obviously I missed being here as a player. I would have liked to have been here.
“I knew when I walked out of here last year it was going to be a tough year, maybe I didn’t think it would take so long to come back but the knee was tough for me.
“But I was happy, I was happy at home. It’s been a good year, tennis or not, my kids are fine, my wife is fine, we’re happy at home. I’ve traveled so much for so many years it’s great to be home.
“I didn’t know if I should make the journey here, but I’m glad to be standing right here, right now!”
While some of the champions in attendance, like Simona Halep and Rafael Nadal, need to get ready for games, the others will be able to watch British hopeful Heather Watson, young Spanish star Carlos Alcaraz and Djokovic himself during the action on Sunday’s Center Court.
MORE: Wimbledon 2022: Why are there empty seats and can you still buy tickets?
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