FEDERER: TWELVE FINAL DAYS: A Film That Wasn’t Supposed to Be, but Is and Moves to Tears [REVIEW]

Regardless of what you seek in cinema, I have a piece of advice for you before watching Federer: Twelve Final Days. Prepare a pack of tissues.

Martyna Janasik

20 June 2024


This film wasn’t supposed to exist. This story was never meant to see the light of day. This footage was intended to be a keepsake only for the tennis player himself. However, what the creators managed to capture was too important to remain in a private archive. Is there a better way to show an athlete’s story and his significance to the sport than by revealing the last days of his career and the impact his retirement decision had on his greatest rivals? Not in this case. We review Federer: Twelve Final Days, a Prime Video sports documentary about the last 12 days of Roger Federer‘s career, considered by many to be the best tennis player in history.


Federer: Twelve Final Days is a real treat for fans of sports emotions and uncompromising portraits where the person is more important than their iconic status. This new release from Amazon Prime Video is an intimate documentary in which viewers can follow the last 12 days of Roger Federer’s over two-decade-long career.

The film was initially meant to be a keepsake only for Federer himself, and the recordings were never intended to be publicly shared. That’s why some might wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, there are no specific records or trophies mentioned here, even though Federer is the third most decorated tennis player in history. There is also no typical biography of a great athlete tracing the journey from an anonymous boy to the king who won almost every possible tennis title. When you’re doing something just for yourself, you focus on emotions, not glory and fame. Those are for the world, which was never supposed to see this film. And that is the greatest strength of this production.


The creators managed to capture Federer in his most vulnerable and sincere moments, when he cried without hesitation and didn’t know what to do without tennis, saying goodbye to the game and the fans who had been with him for the last two decades. His relationships with his greatest rivals, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray, are also shown, and you should know that their participation in the film was not obvious. After all, they are rivals who dominated tennis to such an extent that for nearly the last 20 years, no one else won the most important tournaments, and they played against each other in most finals. So how is it possible that these eternal rivals agreed without hesitation to participate in the documentary and immediately flew to London when Federer told them he was ending his career and wanted them to be there with him? After watching Federer: Twelve Final Days on Prime Video, the answer becomes clear. Sometimes, we don’t notice the moment when someone has such a big impact on us that we can’t imagine life without them.


It’s hard to judge a film that was created with the thought that no one except the main character would see it. This makes it too intimate for any assessment to be valid. Especially since I increasingly find myself looking for something entirely different in film criticism. I simply look for the person and check if I can see myself in them. In Federer: Twelve Final Days, I got a portrait where the hero wasn’t afraid to show his true self – with his imperfections, injury, and fears about what will happen after putting down the racket. This allowed me to feel that Roger Federer is not just an icon, but above all a person just like me. This gives faith that if he, an ordinary boy from Switzerland, once managed to fulfill his dreams, then each of us can too.


Regardless of what you seek in cinema and documentary films, I have a piece of advice for you before watching Federer: Twelve Final Days. Prepare a pack of tissues, because the last days of Federer’s career will move you to tears. Whether it’s when you hear Federer reading his farewell letter, or when you see that the greatest rivals – Federer and Nadal – are actually best friends, and it’s alongside Nadal that Federer wants to play his last match. Or finally, when Federer’s greatest rivals cry like babies after he played the last ball of his career.

Martyna Janasik

Martyna Janasik

Cultural studies scholar and writer. Enthusiast of food, cinema, and sports. Probably that's why some of her favorite movies are "Rocky" and "Julie and Julia". She always wanted to write, so she will always write. In her free time, she loves watching movies and playing tennis.

See other posts from this author >>>