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Caroline Wozniacki’s Fitting Farewell To Tennis

The 29-year-old tennis star might not have been praised by everybody, but her upcoming departure will leave a noticeable gap on the WTA Tour.

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Caroline Wozniacki poses with the 2018 Australian Open women's trophy

It was news that many expected in recent weeks, but when it was announced there was still a sense of shock.

 

In less than two months time Caroline Wozniacki will end a career that has made her the most decorated Danish Tennis player of all time. In a lengthy Instagram post, she confirmed the upcoming Australian Open will be her last tournament. She states that her decision is not health-related and instead wants to embark upon other activities. Including starting a family with her husband David Lee. A former NBA player who retired in 2017 at the age of 34.

“I’ve always told myself, when the time comes, that there are things away from tennis that I want to do more, then it’s time to be done,” Wozniacki wrote. “In recent months, I’ve realized that there is a lot more in life that I’d like to accomplish off the court.”

Wozniacki’s rise in the sport started almost 15 years ago on the junior circuit where she eventually peaked at a high of number two. She claimed a series of prestigious titles, including the 2006 Wimbledon Girls title and was runner-up at the Australian Open that same year. Due to her results, she stopped playing junior events at the age of 16.

“I am only 16 years old, but if I train hard, have some luck and avoid injuries, then I think it is possible to get to the top. And then I get the opportunity to take part in the victory party at Wimbledon,” she told Kristeligt Dagblad back in 2006.

Whilst never managing to get her name on the Wimbledon trophy, the 29-year-old still managed to excel on the court. Guided on the tour by her father, Piotr, she quickly emerged as one of the rising stars of the sport by cracking the world’s top 20 at the age of 18. Aided by her first trio of WTA titles won during the second half of 2008. Generating rapidly rising interest in her back in her home country.

Establishing herself as a top player, it was just a matter of time before she would clinch the No.1 spot. She achieved the milestone in October 2010 when she reached the quarter-finals of the China Open, which she went on to win. Wozniacki would go on to hold the No.1 position for 71 weeks during three separate periods throughout her career. The ninth longest span in the Open Era on the WTA Tour.

The grand slam struggles

During the majority of her time at the top, Wozniacki’s struggle to claim a grand slam title placed her in line for numerous criticism. Some of which at times were unfair. The high expectation stemmed from the 2009 US Open where she reached the final at the age of 19. One of the most (if not the most) critical articles to come out was from Bleacher Report, who blasted Wozniacki when she was just 20!

“Wozniacki has struggled her whole career to triumph over top players on the biggest stages, and it’s not just a coincidence that she has failed.” the article reads.
“Caroline Wozniacki may be the women’s No. 1 player according to the ranking system, but she doesn’t deserve to be.”

At one stage it did appear that the window for Wozniacki to clinch a major trophy had closed, but she never gave up and finally achieved her goal. Nine years after her first appearance in a grand slam final, she won the 2018 Australian Open. Taking on Simona Halep in a dramatic final, she prevailed 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-4, after almost three hours of play.

“It’s really nice not to have to answer the ‘no Grand Slam’ question ever again and now finally I have the world No 1 and a Grand Slam title. It’s very special.”

So far Wozniacki has played in 50 grand slam tournaments. Winning 117 out of 187 matches played.

The off-court challenges

Caroline Wozniacki at the 2019 Australian Open (photo Roberto Dell’Olivo)

Injuries and burnouts had blighted the Dane throughout her career, but just months after lifting the Australian Open trophy Wozniacki faced a whole new challenge. After suffering from bouts of illness, she was eventually diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. A long-term autoimmune disorder that affects the joints. There is no cure for the condition which can cause swelling, stiffness and pain in numerous parts of the body. Symptoms can also include tiredness and a fever.

Despite the diagnosis, Wozniacki never blamed the condition on any of her performances on the court. Even when she announced her retirement, the Dane stressed that it wasn’t health related.

“It makes some things more challenging, but I feel great in the day-to-day. I feel like I can do anything, and I’ve won some of my biggest titles of my career with this illness,” she told people.com earlier this month. “I never wanted to use RA as an excuse for anything.”

In In her retirement plans, Wozniacki has already outlined her goal to want to promote her condition. Hoping to inspire others.

“We’re launching a new health education campaign centred around rheumatoid arthritis,” she said. “I felt that it was important that I use my platform to share my story and show that anything is possible, regardless of RA.”

Why retire now?

Currently ranked 37th in the world and yet to turn 30, it could be argued that Wozniacki should carry on playing for a couple more years. However, she has never wanted to do that. When asked during the 2015 Dubai Tennis Championships if she wanted to emulate the Williams sisters and play into her 30s, she replied ‘no, I don’t think so.’

Wozniacki has the luxury of being able to retire on her own terms. Now approaching the end of her tennis career, she has won 30 WTA titles. She has won just over $35.2 million in prize money, which is the fourth highest of all-time for a female tennis player (as of this week). To put into perspective how popular she has become in Denmark, newspaper Ekstra Bladet devoted 12 pages to her following the announcement.

“She’s the greatest athlete we’ve ever had here,” former Danish player Peter Bastiansen wrote in an editorial for bt.dk.
“In the field of individual sports, she has achieved the greatest ever by a Dane, considering that she has been number one on the world rankings on several occasions and won a grand slam.”

Whilst Wozniacki is likely to end her career without multiple grand slam titles, her determination enabled her to stay among the top of the women’s game for almost a decade. Something even her critics have to admire her for. It is only fitting that she should end her career at the venue where she achieved her grand slam dream.

Women’s tennis will lose a big figure in the sport, but her legacy will stay forever.

Wozniacki’s career in numbers

30 – number of WTA titles
71 – weeks spent as world No.1
432– Wozniacki has won more matches on a hard court than any other non-American player on the women’s tour
630 – number of matches won
$35,218,415 – prize money earned so far

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Former Finalist Marketa Vondrousova To Miss French Open Following Surgery

The Olympic silver medallist will miss a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Czech world No.35 Marketa Vondrousova has pulled out of next week’s French Open after undergoing what she describes as a ‘small surgery.’

 

Vondrousova, who reached the final at Roland Garros back in 2019, underwent a procedure on her left wrist after experiencing recurring pain. She decided to do so following a medical consultation and will be soon going through rehab. It will be the first Grand Slam event she has missed since the 2019 US Open which she also withdrew from due to a wrist injury.

“The last few weeks were not easy, I have been experiencing recurring pain in my wrist,” Vondrousova wrote in an Instagram post published on Monday. “After seeing a couple of doctors I decided to get this small surgery done to be able to play pain-free.”
“Staying positive through the recovery and can’t wait to be back on the court soon,”
she added.

The 22-year-old last played on Tour at the Stuttgart Open where she lost in the first round to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur. So far this season she has achieved a win-loss record of 13-5 with her best run being to the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships as a qualifier. Vondrousova also reached the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and defeated Emma Raducanu in the Billie Jean Cup.

A former junior world No.1, Vondrousova has been ranked as high as 14th in the world. So far in her career, she has won just one WTA title which was back in 2017 at the Lugano Open in Switzerland. However, she has reached the final at another four events with the last being at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She has scored a total of six wins over top 10 players.

Another player in doubt for the French Open is defending champion Barbora Krejcikova who hasn’t played a match on the Tour since February. The world No.2 has been sidelined from action due to an elbow injury but remains on the entry list for the Grand Slam which will begin on Sunday.

The French Open draw will take place on Thursday.

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Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina Announces Pregnancy

Tennis’ power couple are set to become parents later this year.

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Former world No.3 Elina Svitoliva has announced that she is expecting a baby girl in October on social media.

 

The 27-year-old made the announcement on Sunday morning with a picture of her and her husband, French tennis star Gael Monfils. Known by some as the sports ‘power couple,’ the two tied the knot last July in Geneva ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games after first going public about their relationship in 2019. They even have their own Instagram account called ‘g.e.m.s. life’ which has more than 139,000 followers.

“With a heart full of love and happiness, we are delighted to announce that we are expecting a baby girl in October,” the couple wrote on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/ElinaSvitolina/status/1525778313918177280

Svitolina hadn’t played on the Tour since losing to Heather Watson at the Miami Open in March after deciding to take time away from the sport due to events happening in her home country. Russia launched a military operation against Ukraine earlier this year which has claimed thousands of lives. Svitolina is one of the sport’s most outspoken players regarding the conflict. She has previously spoken out against the decision to ban Russian and Belarussian athletes from Wimbledon by arguing that they should be allowed to participate if they condemn the actions of their home countries.

We don’t want them banned completely,” Svitolina told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast.
“If players don’t speak out against the Russian government then it is the right thing to ban them.”

Prior to announcing her pregnancy, Svitolina has achieved a win-loss record of 5-8 on the Tour this season with her best runs being to the third round of the Australian Open and the quarter-finals of a WTA event in Monterrey.

During her career, the Ukrainian has won 16 WTA titles and reached the semi-finals of two Grand Slams during 2019.

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Bianca Andreescu reaches Rome quarterfinals after beating Petra Martic

The Canadian was able to get by her Croatian opponent in straight sets on Thursday afternoon in the Italian capital.

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Photo by Roberto Dell’Olivo

Bianca Andreescu is through to the quaterfinals of the Italian Open being played at the Foro Italico in Rome after beating Petra Martic in 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 45 minutes.

 

The Toronto native served four aces and won 76% of her first serve points in a match that was pretty straight forward for the world number 90 who makes her first quaterfinal this season.

During the first set both players did a good job holding serve and it was pretty tight until 4-4 when the Canadian was able to convert and served out the first set to take a 1-0 lead.

Andreescu was hungry for the early break in the second set and she got it but the Croat broke right back the following game to level the set at 2-2. She was then put on the defensive as the world number 47 started putting pressure on the Canadian but Andreescu was able to save two breakpoints before being able to hold serve to make it 3-3.

The next game Martic produced a poor service game and the 2019 US Open champ took full advantage, getting the break and that one break was enough for her to serve out the match.

Her reward for reaching the quarterfinals a date with the world number one Iga Swiatek who had no issues beating the Minsk native Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-1.

This will be their first ever meeting on the WTA Tour.

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