Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open on Thursday after failing to recover from a back injury, bringing to an end the 17-time major winner’s astonishing run of 65 consecutive Grand Slams.
But the 34-year-old world number three insisted that his career, which has yielded 88 titles and close to $100 million in prize money, is not facing its endgame.
“I regret to announce that I have made the decision not to play in this year’s French Open,” the 2009 Roland Garros champion wrote on his Facebook page.
“I have been making steady progress with my overall fitness, but I am still not 100% and feel I might be taking an unnecessary risk by playing in this event before I am really ready.”
The former world number one, who has been plagued by knee and back injuries this year, last missed a Grand Slam event in 1999 when he skipped the US Open.
Federer, with his 35th birthday looming in August, has played only four tournaments this year.
After losing to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semifinals, he underwent knee surgery in February — his first such operation — after injuring himself while giving his children a bath.
He missed the US hardcourt swing before returning to action at the Monte Carlo Masters in April.
Back pain then forced him to sit out Madrid before the Swiss legend lasted just two matches at the Rome Masters where he was dumped out by Austrian youngster Dominic Thiem.
Despite Thursday’s decision, Federer insists he will keep playing and will concentrate on preparing for the grass court season and a fresh bid to win an eighth Wimbledon, the scene of his most recent Grand Slam triumph in 2012.
He also intends compete at the Rio Olympics in August.
“This decision was not easy to make, but I took it to ensure I could play the remainder of the season and help to extend the rest of my career,” the Swiss veteran added in his statement.
“I remain as motivated and excited as ever and my plan is to achieve the highest level of fitness before returning to the ATP World Tour for the upcoming grass court season.