Elena Dementieva shocked the tennis world Friday when she announced that she would be retiring from tennis.
The surprise announcement came straight after her final professional match against Italian Francesca Schiavone in which she lost, 6-4 6-2. It was her final match of the round-robin stage at the Khalifa Tennis Complex in Doha, Qatar. She did not manage to qualify for the semifinals.
"I would like to thank all the people around the world for supporting me," the former world No. 3 said. "I'm so emotional and it's so hard to say goodbye. I am going to miss you so much."
Earlier in the year the Russian won her last two tournaments at the Medibank International in Sydney in January (in which she defeated Serena Williams) and at the Paris Open in February. Her last WTA Tour final came this year in Tokyo, where she lost to Caroline Wozniacki.
While Dementieva was making her speech, her fellow tennis rivals came out on court to show their support, with some players and the Russian's mother turning on the waterworks.
“She has been one of the players I grew up with playing in juniors,” Kim Clijsters said. “She has been one of the most professional players, one of the nicest girls on the court.”
Stacey Allaster, the chairman of the WTA Tour, added, "Elena has been a champion and consummate professional on and off the court throughout her career."
"She has also been a catalyst for the growth of the sport in Russia and around the world. We will miss her and wish her the best of luck."
Dementieva was always considered one of the best WTA players never to win a Grand Slam. She reached two Grand Slam finals—the French and US Open, both in 2004. She has 16 career titles, including a 2008 Olympic gold medal. She was also a Fed Cup winner with Russia in 2005.
Dementieva turned professional in 1998 and won her first WTA event five years later at Amelia Island against Lindsay Davenport in 2003. She managed to accumulate $14,117,437 in prize money, which ranks 13th on the all-time list.
This was Dementieva’s 10th appearance at the prestigious year-end tournament.