The retirement of Elena Dementieva comes as a bit of a shock and surprise to her many fans. She was one Russian player who always seemed on the cusp of usurping a Grand Slam but just could not pull it off. She came close twice—each time losing to her fellow Russian contemporaries, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasia Myskina.
Elena does have the consolation of winning a Gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Elena, how could you disappoint us so?
Elena Dementieva spent fourteen long years on the tour. Can the younger lot match up? What if success does not come that easy? Are they willing to struggle the way Elena did and the way Sharapova is right now?
Mind you, Maria has three Slams to her name. But she continues knowing fully well that she’s not playing to her full potential. Can love for the game be enough to charge up her enthusiasm?
The 2010 season saw a reinvigorated Kimiko Date return to the game simply enjoying her time on the court. She was able to cause some upsets along the way—maybe because there was no pressure of expectations, maybe because she could say, “Let me have a ball on court and try out a few things.” Maybe because this time it was just about having fun!
Francesca Schiavone won her first Grand Slam at 29. Her opponent in the French Open final , Samantha Stosur, was no spring chicken either. But they are both rendering the best tennis of their lives. Is there a plus factor here?
Yet, Elena comes along and spoils the party with her announcement—thus throwing up the same old questions.
Are women tennis stars jaded by the grind of the tour? Do they not seem to start early and finish early? Are they old, tired and fed up before their time? Has the pleasure factor all but disappeared?
The Williams sisters make no bones about their minimal commitment to the tour. For them, life off the court is almost as important as on it. Serena (and Venus , at her best) is the closest to the equivalent of a Federer or Nadal on the women’s circuit. Yet, we keep losing her to injury or her unwillingness to play more than the requisite tourneys needed to maintain her ranking.
Three years running, three different No. 1s — the Serb Jelena Jankovic, the temperamental Russian Dinara Safina and the dazzling Dane Caroline — and none have won a Grand Slam yet! It could well have been (Verily) Vera Zvonareva this year if the Danish Express had derailed. Does this say something about the lack of depth in women’s tennis?
Where are the top draws? Is a Wozniacki good enough for us? Can the ravishing Dane’s painted nails, skimpy dresses and her love making to the crowd make up for the fact that she is yet to cruise to a Grand Slam victory? She is good enough to get there. Can it last? Can she continue or will she splutter?
Martina Navratilova returned at the ripe old age of 46 partnering Leander Paes to a Wimbledon mixed doubles gold.Is there the same joie de vivre in the younger lot?
Meanwhile, what has happened to the Russian brigade? Is Maria Sharapova (I’m not counting Safina or Elena Vesnina out yet!) to be the final flag-bearer?
Kim Clijsters’ romance at the US Open is the stuff of dreams. Rarely, does a tennis player do better on his or her reappearance from retirement but the feisty Belgian turned the world topsy-turvy with her Flushing Meadows performances. Henin is another ex-retiree relishing her second wind.
Should an informal rule be formulated for the women players to take a few years off, get a life and then return to the Tour? Will that prolong their careers? Is there a lesson here somewhere?
Farewell, Elena! We’ll miss you! Have a great life!
Elena Dementieva on quitting the sport:
"You don’t have to be perfect, but you have to try hard. And I did all the time."