Wow. No one saw that coming.
Just minutes after finishing her match against Francesca Schiavone at the WTA Championships in Doha, Elena Dementieva announced her retirement from professional tennis at age 29. During a brief on-court ceremony featuring many of the players playing this week in Doha, Dementieva thanked everyone and especially her mother Vera who has been her long time coach and companion on tour.
The announcement stunned those in attendance and the tennis world except maybe a few Russian journalists and players on site. Tracy Austin, doing interviews for the WTA and TennisTV.com interviewed Vera Zvonareva prior to taking the court for her match against Kim Clijsters and when Austin asked Zvonareva if she knew if Dementieva had indicated retiring to her, Zvonareva took a long time to answer before saying she and Dementieva had discussed it over the summer although it appears the decision was made after this year’s U.S. Open.
Although during the on-court ceremony WTA CEO Stacey Allaster said to Dementieva that the door was always open for her to return, my feeling is that Dementieva is done for good similar to Amelie Mauresmo’s announcement last year. If that is the case Dementieva, winner of an Olympic gold medal and 16 tour titles along with reaching the finals of the French Open and U.S. Open finishes with an impressive career even if she carries the tag as being the best player, man or woman, to never have won a Grand Slam title.
A classy, elegant person who always showed tremendous fight on court along with displaying true sportsmanship even after a difficult loss, Dementieva will be truly missed and it’s probably best to end this article with her own words.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported me through my career, including the WTA, all of the tournaments and the staff, all of the WTA players I have had the pleasure of playing with, the sponsors that are so important for our sport, my mother Vera and my family and of course, the fans that have been there for me through the years,” said Dementieva. “While I look forward to the next chapter of my life, I will miss all of you very much.”