Tennis retirement age: When do tennis players retire?

Tennis retirement age: When do tennis players retire?

Lenah Ann
March 19, 2024 at 10:49 AM
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Tennis is one of the world's most famous indoor sports. Millions of fans across the globe follow it because of its elegance, strength, and durability. Most fans have always wondered about the tennis retirement age and how long one can play the game. Legendary athletes like Serena Williams, Roger Federer, and Maria Sharapova dominated the sport for decades before retiring.

Tennis retirement age
S. Williams (L) holds waves after retiring on 5 September 2022 in New York. R. Federer waves in tears after retiring on 23 September 2022 in London. Photo: TPN, Robert Prange (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

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With the ever-changing landscape of professional sports, retirement age remains an ever-present subject of fascination. Some athletes retire early at the peak of their careers due to injuries or health problems, while others push to their late 30s and 40s.

Tennis retirement age

What age do tennis players retire? According to several sources, like Dario AS and My Tennis HQ, the average retirement age of most tennis players is 27. The retirement age varies depending on gender, success, or finances. Men reportedly have a higher average retirement age than women.

Less successful athletes also have higher chances of retiring early than successful stars. Financial challenges also force tennis stars to retire early.

When do table tennis players retire?

According to Ping Sunday, Most table tennis players peak at around 25. Their physical fitness and ability decline from 30, making competing with the younger generation difficult. The average retirement age in table tennis is nearly the same as that of tennis.

Some table tennis athletes like Germany's Timo Boll still compete in their 40s. Serena Williams retired in September 2022 at 41 but told Express of her desire to return to the sport.

"I have never liked the word retirement. Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is evolution. I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me."
What is the average retirement age for tennis players?
Serena Williams of The United States waves to the fans as she leaves the court at the 2021 Wimbledon event on 29 June 2021 in London, England. Photo: Julian Finney
Source: Getty Images

Serena had a glittering career that saw her bag 23 Grand Slam titles. Another tennis legend who retired in 2022 is Roger Federer. The Swiss star retired from competitive tennis at 41 after playing over 1,500 matches in over 24 years, as reported by the NPR.

The sport has also witnessed the early exits of promising talents like Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Tracy Austin, and Andrea Jaeger. Justine retired in 2011 at 25, as per ESPN report. Clijsters also retired in 2012 at 24 but returned in 2020 and retired again in 2022. Bjorn Borg retired in 1981 at 25, while Jennifer Capriati bowed out in 2004 aged 28.

Average tennis retirement age and other sports

What is the average retirement age for tennis players compared to other sports? Tennis has one of the lowest average retirement age among top sports. RBC Wealth Management published that the average retirement age for MLB athletes is 29.5, followed by 28.2 for NHL stars, 28 for NBA players, and 27.6 for NFL players.

In soccer, players retire at around 35, as reported by Soccer Blade. Playing high-level football at an old age is difficult because of the fast-paced game. Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimović retired in June 2023 at 41. Some of the old active footballers, according to the Olympics, include Japan's Miura Kazuyoshi (56), Italy's Gianluigi Buffon (45), and Japan's Endō Yasuhito (43).

What influences retirement in tennis?

What age do tennis players retire?
Maria Sharapova of Russia on the changeover during her last tennis game against Donna Vekic of Croatia at the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on 21 January 2020. Photo: Chaz Niell
Source: Getty Images

The age at which tennis stars retire depends on numerous factors, like physical, mental, and personal matters. Some of the causes of retirement include:

  • Injuries
  • Need to pursue personal goals
  • Poor performance
  • Mental fatigue
  • Financial challenges

Top five oldest tennis players to retire

What is the age limit for tennis?
Legendary Martina Navratilova of the United States plays with teammate Mark Woodford of Australia on 12 July 2023 in London, England. She retired at 49. Photo: Tim Clayton
Source: Getty Images

Although most athletes retire young, some perform well as they reach their forties and beyond. Here is a list of the top five tennis legends who defied the odds of the age limit in sport, as told by Knel Now.



Year of Retirement

Retirement age

Jimmy Connors




John McEnroe




Kimiko Date




Younes El Aynaoui




Martina Navratilova

Czech Republic, American



Frequently asked questions

Tennis fans are often proud of the accomplishments of their favourite players, even though they know that things will change once they quit the sport. Here are the frequently asked questions about the sports retirement age.

What is the age limit for tennis?

The renowned indoor sport has no retirement limit; it is one of the few sports that one can participate in from the time they are young up to their oldest age.

What age did Serena Williams retire?

The renowned legend retired at 41 years old to concentrate on family life. She is among the greatest players ever to play the sport.

Do you get paid if you retire from tennis?

Players get paid for all the matches they participated in before retirement. Once they retire, they cannot make any money from events.

Final word

The tennis retirement age has been a topic of discussion among fans. However, most have a general idea of what to expect from the average retirement age since each athlete's journey is different, and so is the choice to stop participating in the sport.

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Lenah Ann
Lenah Ann is a Kenyan-based content creator with 2 years of experience. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Media and Communication from Dedan Kimathi, Kenya in 2021.