On Thursday, with one sentence, Andy Roddick hijacked all of the storylines for the remainder of this year's U.S. Open. But in this case, it was completely necessary.
The former world No. 1, owner of 32 career titles and 2003 U.S. Open champion announced during a news conference on Thursday that he would retire at the conclusion of the tournament, according to USA Today's Douglas Robson.
It's a bittersweet announcement. For one thing, Roddick has been the most exciting—and the most successful—American male tennis player we've seen in the last 10 years. In fact, his U.S. Open win marks the only time an American male has won a Grand Slam singles crown since then, according to the Associated Press.
But in an age that, as of late, has been dominated by the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Roddick hasn't been able to keep up. And in that sense, the time is right for him to walk away.
The news is bittersweet, too, for Roddick's colleagues—not just for the fans. After the announcement, Serena Williams told Christian Red of the New York Daily News, "(Roddick) told me a while ago. Really sad. I told him, 'Change your mind Andy.' So many people retiring. It’s incredibly sad for me to lose a friend on the tour. It’s going to be hard."
No matter how long ago he made the decision to retire, he chose the right place to reveal his announcement. The U.S. Open is where it all began for him: all the fame, the expectations and the rewards. He won his first and only Grand Slam title here in 2003 and was the top-ranked player in the world the same year.
But since then, it hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows for Roddick. Though he has finished as the runner-up at Wimbledon three times in his career, he's never won at Roland Garros; he also finished as the runner-up at the 2006 U.S. Open, but he wouldn't win it all again.
Ever since making it to the quarterfinals at the 2010 Australian Open, Roddick has only managed to reach the quarterfinals once. Never better, often worse. In this year's Grand Slams, he's exited in the second round (the Australian Open), the first round (the French Open) and the third round (Wimbledon).
And, as if giving us all a hint of what was to come after he was eliminated at the All England Club a month ago, he blew a kiss to the crowd.
Roddick once was a budding star, but lately, he hasn't been able to compete. And if he isn't able to compete with the best of the best—like he used to—he doesn't want to compete at all.
As he told the AP:
With the way my body feels, with the way that I'm able to feel like I'm able to compete now, I don't know that it's good enough. I don't know that I've ever been someone who's interested in "existing" on tour. I have a lot of interests and a lot of other things that excite me. I'm looking forward to those.
Roddick has given the U.S. a colorful character, and those are the ones who end up being the most beloved. He's given us someone who's popped up in more than his fair share of Us Weekly and People articles. He's given us someone who is alternately infuriating ... :
… and hilarious:
But most importantly, Roddick has given us someone to root for. And in a sport that is so rarely dominated by Americans, that means a lot.
Maybe Roddick still has a little bit of magic—and one last win—left in his system. Maybe he can pull it out in the perfect place, where he once established himself as tennis' next big thing.