Cilic had beaten Sam Querrey over four sets in the semi-final to reach Sunday’s final but the trials and tribulations of his road to the final had clearly taken their toll.
The Croatian called for the trainer midway through the second set and required treatment on a blistered foot when trailing two sets to love.
But he refused to retire and said through the tears that he had been playing the best tennis of his life up to that point.
"I never give up in a match. I gave it my best – it's all I can do,” Cilic said.
Marin Cilic insists he never gives up in a match
Marin Cilic was visibly teary eyed in his interview after the match
I will hope I come back here another time
"I had an amazing journey here. I played the best tennis of my life.
“I really want to thank my team – they gave so much strength to me.
"Of course, to all my fans in Croatia, it was really tough today.
“I gave it my all. I will hope I come back here another time."
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
Wimbledon winners through the years Sun, July 16, 2017
Express Sport takes a look back at all those players who have won at WImbledon over the years.
Play slideshow Getty Images 1 of 50
2017 – Garbine Muguruza
His conqueror Federer, now an eight-time Wimbledon and 19-time Grand Slam champion, also promised to return and defend his title, quashing rumours that he would retire in the wake of the victory.
But the Swiss first paid tribute to Cilic’s bravery at continuing.
"It is cruel sometimes,” Federer said.
“But Marin fought well and is a hero, so congratulations on a wonderful tournament.
“You should be really proud, this is such a special occasion, you had a wonderful tournament and sometimes you don't feel great in the final.
"I hope we can play down the road some better ones."