REUTERS/Charles Platiau (FRANCE – Tags: HEADSHOT SPORT TENNIS) via Daylife
2009 has been a great year for tennis, but with the retirements of Marat Safin, Fabrice Santoro and now Amélie Mauresmo, who announced today via a press conference near Paris that she is leaving the game for good, it’s impossible not to feel a little melancholy. I was just thinking about Safin yesterday and how irreplaceable he is. Unlike soap operas villains, tennis can’t cast a replacement and assume nobody will notice. With Amélie, we lose a stylish French artist. The one-handed backhand moves closer to extinction. An intelligent, graceful and fragile Major champion leaves the sport to those with more grit and less subtlety.
“It’s a bit sad, but this is the right decision,” Mauresmo told the media today. “I was lucky enough to have an exceptional career and to experience very strong feelings on the court.”
Click here to watch a video from Thursday’s press conference.
REUTERS/Charles Platiau via Daylife
Here’s a short list of Amelie’s accomplishments:
- She became the first player from France — male or female – to reach the No. 1 spot. She was ranked No. 1 for a total of 39 weeks in her career.
- She is the only French player to have won a Major singles title since Yannick Noah won Roland Garros in 1983.
- She is the first and only French player to win Wimbledon in the Open Era.
- She won a total of two Majors – the Australian Open and Wimbledon, both in 2006. Her first Major final came in the 1999 Australian Open, where she lost to Martina Hingis.
- She won the silver medal in singles at the 2004 Athens Games
- She led France to Fed Cup victory in 2003, winning both her matches over Team USA in the final.
- She qualified for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in eight consecutive years (1999 to 2006), winning the title in 2005 and reaching the final in 2006.
Amélie’s final season on tour wasn’t anything to be ashamed of – she leaves ranked No. 21 in the world, and having added her 25th career singles title earlier this year at the Open GDF SUEZ in Paris.
With the comebacks of her major rivals, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, fresh in our minds, the 30-year-old Mauresmo swears that her retirement is permanent: “Even if I’ve learned to never say never. The players you are thinking about stopped earlier than me before coming back.”
Clijsters offered this statement on Amélie’s retirement:
“Amélie was one of the most gifted players we had to play the sport. She had all the shots and it was only fitting she realized her dream and talent by winning Wimbledon. We shared a great rivalry, I’ll never forget our match at Filderstadt in 2002 where we both had match points, or the emotional farewell I had in Antwerp in 2007 when Amélie beat me to win the Diamond Games Racquet. She always brought out the best in me. Away from the courts she was a super nice girl, always honest with a great sense of fun and humor. She is an icon in her home country of France and fans around the world loved her varied style of play. I will miss that and wish her all the best in life after tennis.“
Mauresmo has said that her motto in life is “no regrets.” I assume she will not regret her decision to leave the game:
You’ll be missed, Amélie!