It was a big blow for tennis fans as well as for the former World No. 1 himself. Roger Federer’s record run of appearances in 65 consecutive majors over a span of 16 years, came to an end on Thursday when the 17 Grand Slam winner announced on his Facebook page that he was pulling out of the French Open.

“The decision was not easy to make, but I took it to ensure that I could play the remainder of the season and help to extend the rest of my career,” Federer posted. He said he felt sorry about disappointing his fans, but hoped to return to Roland Garros in 2017.

A persistent back problem has plagued the Swiss tennis ace since the beginning of this year, forcing him to skip playing at Madrid earlier this month, and then making an early exit from the Rome Masters.

Experts think that Federer is wisely trying to conserve energy and fitness for the upcoming grass-court Wimbledon championships, of which he’s a seven-time winner. Also ahead are the Rio Olympics in August where Federer, representing Switzerland, is expected to play in the mixed doubles, partnering with Martina Hingis.

With the withdrawal of Federer, it means that two of the biggest superstars in tennis will not be seen at the French Open clay-court tournament. Maria Sharapova, till recently the world’s richest female athlete, will also not attend serving a provisional ban related to dope-testing. For avid tennis fans, that’s going to be a double disappointment.