Roger Federer Reveals One Thing About Being a Tennis Pro He’s Glad to ‘Finally’ Stop Doing (Exclusive)

The tennis champ opens up to PEOPLE about how he surprisingly loves his life in "retirement" — and a few things he doesn't miss about being a pro

<p>Justin McManus</p> Roger Federer

Justin McManus

Roger Federer

Roger Federer was a near picture-perfect athlete for 24 years, always full of grace and always intensely focused.

Now, nearly two years into his retirement, the Swiss tennis legend who began playing professionally as a teenager just seems different. Yes, he’s still poised. But he’s also full of joy.

“I’m really, really happy,” he tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. “Retirement has been really good."

He had no idea leaving the sport that dominated his world for decades would feel . . . okay?

“It was a weird feeling but also a good one,” the 42-year-old says of announcing in September 2022 that he would retire. “I hadn’t felt great for years at the end,” he admits, “so it was a huge relief.”

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It was also a relief to leave one thing behind: "A lot of what you don't see about being pro that might not seem like work is actually a lot of work," he says. "There's of course the constant media, but also the drug testing. We have to do the doping tests all the time and give an hour of our day to it."

"And they would come everyday, so you'd wake up and know in the back of your mind that somebody would be coming in to test you on the back of your hand, and so that hour of your life drops away," he adds. "So now it's like, finally, no one is going to ring the doorbell at 7 a.m. this morning to come and test me. All those little things like that, they accumulated and actually ended up being quite big things."

Related: All About Roger Federer and Mirka Federer's 4 Kids

<p>liewig christian/Corbis via Getty</p> Roger Federer during the 2020 French Open

liewig christian/Corbis via Getty

Roger Federer during the 2020 French Open

Of course, Federer is hardly retired retired. He's as busy as ever, but it's just a different kind of busy. He's constantly working on his RF brand, his partnerships with brands like Uniqluo, Rolex, and On athletic shoes. Plus, he's working with various charities, and parenting his four kids.

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In a new Prime Video documentary, Federer: Twelve Final Days (out June 20), Federer is revealing the private moments leading up to his transition — including anxious jitters and being at home with his supportive family, but also his certainty about moving on.

Initially the footage “was just for my children, my friends and myself,” the dad of four says. “Maybe some social clips. That’s why it was so natural and unscripted.”

When all was said and done, though, he realized that his last chapter as a tennis pro was worth sharing.

“I still haven’t wanted to do a full documentary about my entire life yet,” he says. “Twelve days was perfect for me!”

He also admits that he doesn’t plan to disappear from tennis altogether.

“I love it too much,” he says of the sport, adding that he'll likely be at Wimbledon in July.

<p>Julian Finney/Getty</p> Roger Federer playing at Wimbledon in 2021

Julian Finney/Getty

Roger Federer playing at Wimbledon in 2021

Related: Roger Federer Says Sitting with Kate Middleton at Wimbledon Was 'So Fun': 'I Know Her Quite Well'

Of friends and former competitors like Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, he notes he also stays in touch with them.

“I just saw Rafael at his home in January," says Federer. "He's a new dad and he's doing great.”

But Federer is also content to learn some new tricks, no racket required.

“I’m starting to play golf,” he says, adding that Mirka and the kids are also learning alongside him.

So far so good, but as a former pro athlete, he knows there's room for improvement.

“It’s a tough sport!" he says with a laugh.

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