Tennis

Ivanovic: 'I can no longer perform at the highest level'

Former world No. 1 and French Open champion Ivanovic retires at age 29

Former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 29 on Wednesday because 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 Russian Dinara Safina in the 2008 French Open final, following in the footsteps of compatriot Novak Djokovic who won the Australian Open the same year.

"There is no other way to say it. I have decided to retire from professional tennis," Belgrade-born Ivanovic said on Facebook.

"It has been a difficult decision, but there is so much to celebrate. I began dreaming about tennis when I was five.

"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 have seen the heights I never dreamt of achieving."

Her French Open victory catapulted Ivanovic to the summit of the WTA Tour rankings, but she occupied top spot for only 12 weeks in 2008 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 semi-finals in 2015, but slipped out of the leading 60 this year after losing to little-known Czech Denisa Allertova in the US Open first round - her final match on the WTA Tour.

She announced at the time that she had taken the decision to stop playing until 2017 on medical advice over a recurring wrist injury, with a problematic toe also needing surgery.

MEMORABLE

"I played so many memorable matches. But, staying at those heights in any professional sport requires top physical 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, the world No. 63, married former Germany football 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 endeavours," she said.

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

WTA chairman Steve Simon called Ivanovic a "true champion and a great ambassador for the sport of women's tennis".

"She has contributed greatly to the entire sport, both in her home country of Serbia and across the globe," Simon said.

"She will certainly be missed on our Tour as she is not only one of a very select few that achieved the WTA No. 1 ranking, but is also one of the most respected players on Tour." 
- WIRE SERVICES

RetirementFrench Open