His great rival Rafael Nadal was also in tears as Federer bid farewell to tennis at the age of 41 following a final appearance in the Laver Cup at the 02 Arena in London.
The 20-time grand-slam champion could not bring the curtain down with one final competitive victory after losing 4-6 7-6 (2) 11-9 alongside doubles partner Rafael Nadal to Team World pair Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe at the Laver Cup.
“We’ll get through this somehow,” Federer said on-court.
“Look, it has been a wonderful day. I told the guys I’m happy, I’m not sad. It feels great to be here and I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time.
“Everything was the last time. Funny enough with all the matches, being with the guys and having family and friends, I didn’t feel the stress so much even if I felt something would go during the match. I am so glad I made it through and the match was great. I couldn’t be happier.
“Of course playing with Rafa on the same team, having all the guys here, the legends, Rocket (Rod Laver), Stefan Edberg, thank you.
“It does feel like a celebration to me. I wanted to feel like this at the end and it is exactly what I hoped for so thank you.
“It has been a perfect journey and I would do it all over again.”
Federer had to fight back the tears before he thanked wife Mirka, who has watched him battle through a succession of knee operations before he finally admitted defeat in his pursuit to come back last week.
He added: “Thank you everybody. I’ve had so many people cheer me on and you guys here tonight mean the world.
“My wife has been so supportive… she could have stopped me a long, long time ago but she didn’t. She kept me going and allowed me to play so thank you. She is amazing.”
The on-court interview given by Federer to former Grand Slam champion Jim Courier instantly became a viral media hit, with over five million views in double quick time after it was posted on the official Laver Cup twitter feed.
Federer had announced last week the doubles contest on night one of the Laver Cup, the Ryder Cup-style team competition he set up, would be his last on the ATP Tour but the door has been left open for more chances to see him on tennis courts around the world, just not in a professional capacity.
“I have no plans whatsoever like where, how, when. All I know is I would love to go and play places I have never played before or go say thank yous for years to come to all the people that have been so supportive of me,” he said during a press conference that did not finish until after 2am on Saturday.
“Because the hard part about the Laver Cup was that tickets were already sold out. You know, the people who maybe would have also loved to be here couldn’t make it.
“Maybe there is another way down the stretch we can party all together.”