I wrote yesterday that there wouldn’t be much in the way of news coming out of Doha with Caroline Wozniacki wrapping up the 2010 No. 1 ranking and the semifinals in place, but I was wrong.
In a stunning development – to me, at least – earlier today following her 6-4, 6-2 loss to Francesca Schiavone, Elena Dementieva tearfully announced her retirement from tennis.
“This year in Doha was very special for me because it was my last tournament,” Dementieva told the crowd after the match. “I’d first like to thank Stacey Allaster. We’re very lucky to have you as the leader of the tour. You do so much to make our tour better, trying to take women’s tennis to a different level. As a player I want to thank you for that. It has been a big honor to be a part of the tour for such a long time. I’d like to thank all the people from the WTA – it was so nice to get to know all of you and work with you for so many years. I’m going to miss you so much. Thanks to all the players for the amazing experiences, all the years I spent on the court with you. And thanks for all the people around the world for supporting me, and my fan club, I could feel your support no matter where I was in the world. Thank you for your devotion.
“Most importantly, thanks to my family, especially my mom. You’ve been very supportive, encouraging, inspiring… you were always there for me. It was a long way and we did it together. I love you mom.
“It’s so emotional. It’s so hard to say goodbye to all of you. I’m going to miss you so much.”
What a surprise.
The 29-year-old Dementieva finishes her career with 16 WTA titles, a career-high of No. 3, seven year-end Top 10 finishes and an Olympic Gold medal.
Even though she never reached the No. 1 ranking, Dementieva is arguably the greatest player to have never won a Grand Slam title. She reached two Slams finals but fell short at the 2004 French and US Opens. And she’s been a semifinalist numerous times including a heartbreaking retirement this year at the French Open.
Dementieva’s serve may have been an adventure, but the powerful Russian had some of the best groundstrokes in tennis and her dedication and attitude toward the sport was unrivaled.
She’ll be missed.
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