What Can Entrepreneurs Learn from Roger Federer?

After 24 years playing professional tennis, Roger Federer, 41, has announced he is retiring. The 20-time Grand Slam winner and eight-time Wimbleton champ has been an icon on and off the court but has been sidelined recently with knee injuries.

“As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries,” Federer said in a letter shared to his social media platforms. “I’ve worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body’s capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear.”

“I am 41 years old,” he continued. “I have played more than 1500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.”

Federer hasn’t competed since Wimbledon 2021 where he made it to the quarter-finals. He underwent surgery on his right knee shortly after in August.

In his post, Federer said his last professional match will be the Laver Cup in London later this month where he and fellow tennis legends Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will play together for the first time to compete for Team Europe, per ESPN.

“This is a bittersweet decision, because I will miss everything the tour has given me,” Federer said in his farewell announcement. “But at the same time, there is so much to celebrate. I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on Earth. I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level that I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible.”

Here is a list of lessons small business owners and entrepreneurs can learn from Federer, who many tennis experts credit as the best to ever play.

1. Don’t fear failure.

Fearlessness breeds the best athletes. During the Australian Open 2011, Federer lost to Novak Djokovic in the semifinal. Federer was not afraid in their subsequent matchups; he fought his way back to being first in the world rankings by year’s end. In 2012 he defeated Djokovic on his way to (yes you guessed it) another Wimbledon championship title.

As a struggling entrepreneur, you similarly cannot fear failure. Like Federer, consider every setback an opportunity to work harder and focus all your energy on improving and winning.

2. Learn to adapt.

During the 2003 Wimbledon championship, there were many firsts for Federer. Federer adapted to the tournament’s optimum strategy and style of play after early-round exits the four years prior. The then 22-year-old Federer defeated Mark Philippoussis in the final Wimbledon match and lifted his first Wimbledon trophy.

Similarly, an entrepreneur must learn to adapt to the many dynamic factors of the business world. Being able to accurately identify and adapt to market trends is a vital skill for entrepreneurs and athletes alike.

3. Focus on your strengths.

“As long as I’m doing the right things and staying true to my game plan it makes sense,” Federer told media in a post-match press conference during the 2011 Australian Open. “If I’m just making errors… then I’m in trouble clearly. But it’s about setting up the plays right,” said Federer.

As an entrepreneur, you should focus on what you can control and then master those same elements. That way your business is primed for the highest achievement possible.

4. Stay relevant.

Despite Federer’s Wimbledon loss in 2016, he still found ways to monetize himself, like with his Sunrise Telecommunications commercial for example, which depicted him as an action hero escaping danger. Why is this important? Even in a down year where you are too injured to play, you can stay relevant by turning to creativity and alternative means. Fast forward a few months and that same man made his way to another Wimbledon championship.

Entrepreneurs take notes.