WTA players seem to enjoy catching us unprepared. It’s not a shocker that Elena Dementieva decided to call it a career, but at this very moment, without any prior notice, it’s nothing less than a shocker. The graceful Russian knew she was about to retire even in the beginning of the season, but didn’t want to make her decision public so that people wouldn’t talk about it during the whole year. That’s so Elena. She’s so humble and never wants to draw spotlight to herself.
Still, it's very tough decision to make. Very emotional. I made the decision in the beginning of this season, so it was very hard coming to the tournaments knowing that this was my last one. It was very emotional for me to play the whole year.
I didn't want to make it public. I didn't want everybody talking about the whole season. You know, I only told to my family and close friends, so today in the court I was very surprised that everyone kind of knew about my secret. They all were standing, and it was very special for me.
The 29-year-old Dementieva was ranked inside the Top 20 for 524 of 529 weeks since September 11, 2000. That’s ten years! She’s currently ranked ninth, and 328 of her career weeks she spent inside the Top 10.
I think it's the right time for me. I never wanted to wait until my ranking dropped and I'm not going to be able to go to the main draw. I always wanted to leave this sport with a passion for it.
Besides her professionalism, graciousness, nice personality that both players and fans admired and appreciated, Dementieva can pride herself on 16 singles titles, including two this year, and as much singles finals (including the 2004 French Open and US Open finals), six doubles titles, and above all the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The last match of Dementieva’s 12-year career was today at the WTA Championships when she lost to Francesca Schiavone 6-4 6-2. Dementieva’s last win came just a day before her retirement from the sport when she defeated Samantha Stosur in Doha after a third-set tiebreaker.
Dementieva further explained reasons for quitting tennis, and is she implying she wants to have children?
To be honest with you, I mean, if I would be a man I would never stop playing. But in the age 29; I have to think about something else. I think I'm ready for the big change in my life.
Good luck in everything you do, Elena! You will always be a welcome friendly face to see if you decide to at least stay around the sport of tennis. (quotes via Forty Deuce, photos via Stephane Martinache, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour)