Retired Pennetta considering a return for Rio Olympics

MILAN • US Open champion Flavia Pennetta could delay her retirement from tennis by playing at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but says she will not "risk" partnering boyfriend Fabio Fognini in the mixed doubles.

She defeated Roberta Vinci earlier this year in the first all-Italian Grand Slam final to claim the biggest win of her career, and then announced her retirement from the sport.

The 33-year-old supposedly ended her career two months ago with a defeat by Maria Sharapova at the WTA Finals in Singapore. But despite enjoying some time off, Pennetta hinted at participating at next summer's Olympics.

"Right now I'm taking some time for myself, and if the desire to play returns, then I will always have time to go back on my decision," she said on the fringes of an Italian Olympic Committee awards ceremony on Tuesday.

"I'm not setting any time limits. Whether I go to Rio or not depends on how I feel. At the top level, if you're not in the mood to compete, the younger players will walk all over you."

But Pennetta, who won an Australian Open doubles title partnering Argentina's Gisela Dulko in 2011, said she would put her relationship with Fognini at risk if they teamed up in Rio.

Fognini, 28, won this year's Australian Open men's doubles title with compatriot Simone Bolelli, and is the world No. 21 in singles.

"With Fabio, it's best to keep things in the private sphere," she said. "When you mix certain things together, you risk breaking them up sooner than expected."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2015, with the headline 'Retired Pennetta considering a return for Rio Olympics'. Print Edition | Subscribe