Elena Dementieva Announces Her Retirement from Tennis
by Sean Randall | October 29th, 2010
  • 31 Comments

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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31 Comments for Elena Dementieva Announces Her Retirement from Tennis

kimberly Says:

Wow. I wonder why.


Fedend Says:

If she had taken the serve upgrading PED (the one Rafa took before USO 2010) she would have been a dominating player for years.


Ben Pronin Says:

I want to say it’s pretty amazing for someone who’s currently playing in her 10th WTA tour champions to retire so suddenly at an age where she still has a few good years, but even this can’t top Henin’s retirement.

I also wonder why. Maybe the pressure of never winning a slam finally made her crack. It’s a hefty burden, just ask Murray. But I agree, she will be missed. Like Sean said, she had some of the best ground strokes and when she played well, I could tolerate watching a women’s match.


margot Says:

What a shame, didn’t realise she was 29 and has had loads of injuries. I wish her well.


andrea Says:

i always liked elena but this isn’t overly shocking. she’s had a tendency to crumble in key matches…especially at the slam level. she had multiple chances to close out stosur at the us open this year; that awful semi against serena at the FO.

for someone who had the most powder puff serve in women’s tennis for the longest time, she counteracted that with ferocious groundstrokes.

au revoir.


jane Says:

Sad. : ( I wanted her to get at least one slam. She always came close, and she worked so hard on that dreaded serve of hers. This year at Wimbledon (or was it last year) when she came so close to ousting Serena, I was crushed when she didn’t.

Oh well. All the best to her!


RSP Says:

Sad. I wanted to see her win a slam before she retired…particularly after this year’s heartbreaking French Open semifinal exit.
she definitely will be missed.


RSP Says:

exactly Jane! (I guess we were writing at the same time). I agree , that loss to Serena was perhaps the worst.


Siddy Says:

Sounds like she wanted to marry and have kids if that is the case she is under pressure at 29 to get those kids out over the next several years. All female athletes have to make this decision if they plan to be mothers. At 29, many childbirthing years have since passed and no one wants to be grandparent age trying to chase around their kids. She will be missed on court!


Kimberly Says:

anyone have a video link to this?


Kimmi Says:

ah! very sudden. i guess she didn’t want a farewell year. she was very likeable, no reason to dislike her. I agree with others who said she should have won at least one slam. definetly one of the best players not to win one.

good on her she was able to win the olympic gold, that is a very big achievement in russia.

goodluck to her


Kimmi Says:

there is a photo at the WTA tour site showing dementieva giving her speech together with other players standing next to her on the court..almost everybody seem to be crying. they must love her.


jane Says:

At least she won a gold medal at the Olympics; that’s a special achievement she can always cherish.


Kimberly Says:

feel very sad for some reason about this.


Kimmi Says:

ah kimberly – i was sad too when i heard it the first time. but what can you do, hey?

for some reason i thought she was younger than 29. 29 for women tennis is a good year to retire. great for her she is leaving on a high.. everybody will remember her as the best player.

she is made her millions and can retire rich.

glad i can watch the semis tomorrow.

stosur vs kim
wozniacki vs vera

for some reason only kim has not had a day of rest, all other semi finalist had. i hope she can play well.


Kimberly Says:

These should be competitive, both matches could go either way!


Gregoire Gentil Says:

Very good summary:
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/jon_wertheim/10/29/dementieva.retires/
Sad! She deserved a slam, especially last the Roland-Garros.


guy Says:

but the thing is, she is playing better now than many years ago. look at this year, without the ankle injury at the french i think she would have finally taken that title.
should have given one more year i think, at least to try at the french. probably regret it.
that’s where blake has the right idea, only going to retire when he knows for sure he can’t compete at the top anymore. no regrets then.


Clay Says:

She is such a gentle lovely lady and the tour will miss her terribly. I wish her all the best!


Sculptor Says:

I remember watching her play in Fed Cup in ’98 or ’99 against Mauresmo. A part of my childhood has died with her retirement :(


Cynthia Says:

I hope that now she has decided to retire, she realize how much she loves tennis. Hopefully, she will go away, work on her serve, and make it awesome. Then we’ll see if she comes back and does the Henin & Clijsters unretirement. I doubt it though. I think she really deserved to win at just one Grand Slam Title. She is the best returner on tour and if she could have a semi-decent serve, she would win 1 or 2 slams. But I guess we will see her coaching soon, watch.


Kevin Kane Says:

It’s funny how we’re so obsessed with grand slam titles.

Dementieva won 16 titles (including the Olympic Gold), and earned $14M in prize money. Yet the prevailing summary on her career is a depressing, “Too bad she never bagged a major.”

If you told me the name of your favorite actor, I wouldn’t say, “Yeah, he was so talented. It’s a shame he didn’t win an Oscar before he retired.”

If you told me the name of your favorite band, I wouldn’t say, “They’re good. But it’s sad that they just can’t put it together to win a Grammy.”

If a military veteran told me he served in a war, I wouldn’t say, “Yeah? Were you awarded any medals?”

Slams have become an almost exclusive yardstick for measuring a tennis career. And we pity players who could have, but didn’t, win one.

Maybe we need to look at other achievements, too, and celebrate what the player did accomplish.


Kam Retnasami Says:

Nice article! It’s sad, though, that she is retiring at 29 as it was an injury that prevented her from winning the French Open this year and also prevented her from playing at Wimbledon where she had match point last year against Serena Williams. What she needs is a long vacation, not a retirement. As a die-hard Elena fan (or an elanaholic), I still hope she will come back to her senses in a few weeks or months from now and realize that she left the game one year too early and should have one more shot at Roland Garros or Wimbledon.


madmax Says:

really sad news that she isn’t going to be around the women’s tour. A beautiful woman who always brought glamour to tennis.

I was listening to Jo Dury who was describing Dementieva as a ‘mechnical’ player. I never found her to be that way. She does have a strange serve, yes, but I always thought she was a strong player and as someone said, it seemed to be the case where in crunch moments, she lost a bit of her strength. But a fine career. I hope she goes away and rethinks over the next few months and perhaps rediscovers her passion for tennis – to make a cljisters or henin return – who knows.

All the best to Elena.


blank Says:

Sad to see her go and I loved watching her. She could have easily won at least one GS if she had a bit of luck or if she had a slightly better serve. Even though she is 29, she is fit and given the state of things with Women’s tennis she could have had a chance next year. Anyway, good luck to her!


guytar Says:

Big love to Elena Dementieva for her life of wonderful women’s tennis all around the world.

I was stunned by Elena’s retirement, but it all makes sense after a while. Big love to you again dear Elena and your brilliant tennis for years.

Great lady.


mmm Says:

One of my favorites…best of luck to her in the future.


sar Says:

Elena’s boyfriend has finished his NHL career and is now playing for a Russian team in St.Petersburg. Clijsters tweeted that she can’t wait for Elena and her bf to start a family.


WTF Says:

I wasn’t expecting it until end of next year, but I’m not surprised. She’s had a great career. Some heartbreaking losses she would have won, but she did achieve more than most players will. Overall, given how many handicaps her game had which she needed to overcome by compensating in other areas of her game, I would say she was an overachiever, not an underachiever. I’ve never been able to call her an outright favorite to win a slam, so the fact that she didn’t I won’t hold against her.

Thanks for the great memories, especially at the US Open Elena. Enjoy the next stage of your life.


Dory Says:

I will surely miss her a lot. Her groundstrokes were very good. She had worked very hard on her serve but it was naturally lacking in a few aspects, truth be told. She should definitely have won at least one Slam, she deserved that. With the inconsistent and low standard women’s tennis has reached today, I don’t think having a really good serve is vital to winning a Slam. She also used to get nervous in the most important points. But overall, she was one of the decent players left.


thetennisguy Says:

Surely she will be missed. Elena is pure class from start to finish! Of all the players I’ve watched over 35 years, she is the one that I hoped would win a Grand Slam title because she worked so hard for so long and came so close so many times. I wish her all the best as she starts her new life, and family.

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