‘Op­ti­mistic’ Ana rides into her tennis sun­set

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By REUTERS in Bel­grade

For­mer French Open cham­pion Ana Ivanovic an­nounced her re­tire­ment from tennis at the age of 29 on Wed­nes­day, say­ing she no longer feels fit enough to com­pete at the high­est level.

Ivanovic be­came the first Ser­bian woman to win a Grand Slam tour­na­ment when she beat Rus­sia’s Di­nara Sa­fina in the 2008 French Open fi­nal, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of com­pa­triot No­vak Djokovic who won the Aus­tralian Open ti­tle the same year.

“There is no other way to say it. I have de­cided to re­tire from pro­fes­sional tennis. It has been a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion but there is so much to cel­e­brate,” Bel­grade-born Ivanovic said on Face­book.

“I be­gan dream­ing about tennis when I was five years old. My dear par­ents backed me all the way and by the time I was the world No 1 and won Roland Gar­ros in 2008, I had seen the heights I never dreamed of achiev­ing,” she added.

Her French Open vic­tory cat­a­pulted Ivanovic to the sum­mit of the WTA rank­ings but she only oc­cu­pied top spot for a few weeks and dropped to 22nd at the end of 2009 af­ter a dra­matic loss of form.

She re­turned to the top five in 2014 and reached the French Open semi­fi­nals in 2015, but slipped out of the top 60 this year af­ter los­ing to lit­tle-known Czech Denisa Aller­tova in the first round of the US Open — her fi­nal match on the WTA tour.

“I played so many mem­o­rable matches, but stay­ing at those heights in any pro­fes­sional sport re­quires top phys- ical form and it’s well-known that I have been ham­pered by in­juries,” Ivanovic said.

“I can only play if I per­form up to my own high stan­dards. I can no longer do that, so it’s time to move on.”

Strik­ing a happy fig­ure as she an­nounced her re­tire­ment with a smile in a live ad­dress to her fans, Ivanovic also re­vealed her fu­ture plans.

“Don’t be sad, be op­ti­mistic along­side me. My love and my great­est thank you to all of you,” she said.

Ivanovic mar­ried for­mer Ger­many soc­cer in­ter­na­tional Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger this year.

“I am so ex­cited about what comes next. I will be­come an am­bas­sador of sport and healthy life and will also ex­plore op­por­tu­ni­ties in busi­ness, beauty and fash­ion, among other en­deav­ors,” she said.

“Be­yond that, who knows? All I can say is that I have lived my dreams and hope to have helped oth­ers do so as well.”

AP FILE

Ana Ivanovic

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