Cibulkova retires with head held high

Dominika Cibulkova, 30, has retired from tennis with eight singles titles and her biggest achievement is her 2016 WTA Finals triumph in Singapore.
Dominika Cibulkova, 30, has retired from tennis with eight singles titles and her biggest achievement is her 2016 WTA Finals triumph in Singapore.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Dominika Cibulkova achieved self-actualisation at the 2016 WTA Finals in Singapore, with her win justifying why she had been "playing tennis my whole life".

So despite failing to triumph on the Tour again, the Slovak insisted on Tuesday night that she was walking away from the sport with pride, having "given enough and achieved things I never dreamt of reaching in my career".

In a statement announcing her retirement, the former world No. 4 revealed she had made up her mind to hang up her racket after the French Open in May, saying: "It was strange because I knew, and no one around me except my team knew it would be my last tournament.

"At that point, I was 100 per cent sure. I wasn't doubting or thinking, 'Maybe yes or no'. I knew I wanted to do it like this, for this to be my last tournament.

"I went home and was happy with my decision. It's hard to make it, but once you do, you feel more free."

The 2014 Australian Open finalist won eight singles titles on the Tour, but never clinched a Grand Slam, so Singapore remains the "biggest moment of my career and life".

Reflecting on her landmark win - she beat German Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4 in the final - Cibulkova told wtatennis.com: "It wasn't just winning that tournament, but also the road to qualifying, which was really hard. I had to win Linz just to make it there.

"The way I had to fight to get there, the fact that I was able to do it and belong among the best players in the world.

"I was never a person who wanted to prove people wrong. I knew I was good, so I wasn't trying to play for strangers."

While many players find it hard to adjust to life away from the courts, she has other irons on the fire.

On the same day of her retirement, the 30-year-old released her memoir called Tennis Is My Life and she also said on her Instagram page she would "take on new challenges, spend happy times with my family, friends... visit new places and make new memories".

Her former doubles partner, Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, yesterday tweeted "wishing you all the best in the next chapter of your life", while Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro hailed her as "one of the biggest fighters on Tour".

Cibulkova will not be the only big-name player to call it quits this week.

Yesterday, Tomas Berdych's father, Martin, told Czech daily Blesk that his son would make an official announcement at the ATP Finals in London on Saturday.

The 2010 Wimbledon finalist, who reached a career-best ranking of world No. 4 in 2015, has won 13 career singles titles on the ATP Tour.

The 34-year-old has, however, been beset by injuries in his past three seasons, dropping to 103rd of late.

DPA, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2019, with the headline 'Cibulkova retires with head held high'. Print Edition | Subscribe