Ana Ivanovic, the affable tennis star whose career would never reach the heights of her dazzling 2008, when she won the French Open and briefly became the No. 1 ranked player in the world, retired on Friday in an announcement made live on her Facebook page. The 29-year-old, who was coming off her worst season in a decade, said she couldn’t play up to her own high standards anymore.
The Serb, well known for her shouts of “ajde” (come on) for positive affirmation, had teased the announcement with a cryptic tweet on Tuesday.
“I began dreaming about tennis when I was five and Monica Seles playing on TV,” she said at the beginning of the brief statement. “My dear parents backed me all the way and by the time I was ranked No. 1 in the world and won Roland Garros in 2008 I saw the heights I never dreamt of achieving.”
When she was on, Ivanovic was on. Her 2008 started with a trip to the finals of the Australian Open, included a title at Indian Wells and then saw her hoisting the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen at the French Open later that spring. She moved to No. 1 for 12 weeks and is currently just one of 22 women ever to reach the top of the WTA rankings. But as quickly as she rose, Ivanovic fell, whether due to the pressures of her new position, the injuries that plagued her (but never forced her to miss a major) or any of the other dozens of variables that affect athletes in the most mental of sports.
On the court, Ivanovic had a tough 2016, playing through injury and not advancing past the third round of any major. She lost in the first round of all four tournaments she played in the summer (Wimbledon, the Olympics, Cincinnati and the U.S. Open) and will leave the sport on a five-match losing streak, the first of her 13-year career. She’ll leave the game ranked No. 63 which is, coincidentally, where she bottomed out in 2010 after going into a massive slump following her major title and brief stint at No. 1.
Off the the court, she married boyfriend Bastian Schweinsteiger, the famed German soccer player starring for Manchester United, and. And, at least in the video, she seems at peace with her decision.
The sport of tennis will miss Ivanovic more than you’d think for a player of her resume and stature. She was always a big draw with fans and endorsers, was on the cusp of having crossover potential in the United States (she posed for Sports Illustrated‘s swimsuit issue wrapped in a tennis net) and was a roller coaster on the court, with wild ups and downs that always had you thinking this could be the Grand Slam where she makes another run. It almost happened in 2014 when she played the match of her life to beat Serena Williams in the fourth round. But she lost in the very next match. One year later, Ivanovic was one match away from her fourth Slam final but fell to the lower-ranked Lucie Safarova in three tough sets. Ivanovic played in only one other Grand Slam quarterfinal in the 31 majors she played after her French Open win.
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Those successes won’t define her career though; it’ll merely be part of her larger story.
When you can go out as a Grand Slam champion, one-time world No. 1 and consistent top-20 player for the better part of a decade, but will still be remembered for your passion, drive and kindness, then that’s a sporting life lived right.