It’s a happy end: Arrivederci, Roberta Vinci!

On Monday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Roberta Vinci played her last career match, losing to Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic 2-6 6-0 6-3 in the first round. My tribute to the successful career of the always-positive Italian will be with cute childhood photos I’ve collected over the years for my Little Tennis Stars series.

We’re all going to miss that slice backhand and the 35-year-old’s spirit which is nicely illustrated in her answer to the WTA’s question how she hopes she’ll be remembered:

I hope they can remember me as a good person, simple person, normal person, with good tennis. Good volley, drop shots, slice, but I hope they remember me as a person, not the tennis player. And my bad English.

Born in Taranto, Roberta started playing tennis at the age of six and turned pro in 1999. During two decades of her professional career, the Italian reached the No.7 ranking in singles, No.1 in doubles, won 10 WTA titles in singles and 25 in doubles, including all four Grand Slams with doubles partner Sara Errani.

Tennis fans will agree that Vinci’s greatest contributions to tennis are her Fed Cup results, as she was part of the Italian team on all the four occasions her country won the competition — in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2013.

Moreover, Vinci had a record 18-0 unbeaten run in Fed Cup doubles rubbers, playing with as many as nine different partners, but she finished her career with a 18-1 win-loss record in the stats, as she and Sara Errani lost to France’s Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia in the 2015 Fed Cup opening tie.

Roberta with her mother Luisa

Even though she won 10 WTA titles, the most memorable moment of her singles career was the 2015 US Open runner-up trophy, when she played the first-ever all-Italian singles final at a Grand Slam against good friend Flavia Pennetta, having beaten then-world No.1 Serena Williams in the semis, ending the American’s bid for the calendar-year Grand Slam.

Little Roberta with her older brother Francesco, who gave her a stuffed orange dinosaur which has been her lucky charm.

Roberta will also be remembered for her veteran success, as not only did she reach her first Grand Slam final in singles at the age of 32, but her biggest WTA title came at the Premier-level tournament in St. Petersburg when she was just about to turn 33.

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Roberta has every reason to be satisfied with her career and she’s starting her retirement in good spirits:

All the results that I had. Top 10, slams, and I’m so proud of myself. [There were] ups and downs, of course, in this, but I’m really proud of my tennis, myself and my career. I tried my best, and I’m really proud of everything.

Roberta Vinci’s press conference at her last WTA tournament, the 2018 Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome

The Italian’s positive character, her skills at the net and her backhand slice will be missed on the WTA tour, but she can welcome the new chapter of her life with a smile.

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