Ana Ivanovic signs offJanuary 04, 2017

Twitter users guessed Ana Ivanovic's cryptic Twitter message last December 28. The Serbian would call it a career. Tennis fans have seen the signs: Injuries, the lack of fire in her eyes, and tying the knot with German professional footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger last summer. She turned 29 on November 6, which could have been the right time for retirement if she played against Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. But Serena Williams would show no signs of slowing down at 35. Samantha Stosur, at 32 years of age, could look forward to another season (and possibly another Grand Slam title). The robbery that sidelined Petra Kvitová would remind some fans of the stabbing on Monica Seles and six men robbing Anna Chakvetadze (on 2007), but the two-time Wimbledon champion vowed to come back. (Seles and Chakvetadze weren't the same players after the unfortunate incidents).

Many observers would compare Ivanovic to Anna Kournikova. Both players became known for their good looks. They have potential, but they may not have reached it. In Ivanovic's career, she had a respectable career. Fifteen career titles won't be a puny effort, as she competed against Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, and the Williams sisters. The year 2008 was the pinnacle of her career, reaching the finals of the Australian Open and then winning the French Open. She became the top-ranked player on the WTA Tour, which she held on for nine weeks. The 2014 season saw her return to the Top 5, but injuries and inconsistency marked the last eight years.

Ivanovic couldn't cite burnout, as fans would recall how she clenched her fist whenever she won a point. It would also be unfair to compare her to Novak Djokovic. (Ivanovic wouldn't reach the summit of the WTA singles rankings if she didn't want it badly.) Tennis was rather a selfish sport, and Ivanovic reached a crossroad after settling down with Schweinsteiger. The Manchester United midfielder plans to move to the US (next January), so expect Ivanovic to relocate from Switzerland. And they might start a family next year.

Ivanovic, who idolized Seles, won't be compared to Dinara Safina, Caroline Wozniacki, and Jelena Janković. All three ladies became #1 at some points of their career without winning a major singles title. Janković would turn 32 on February 28, but don't expect her to follow Ivanovic anytime soon. She might be inspired by Angelique Kerber, a late bloomer in the sports. (The German won two Grand Slam titles last season, also finishing the year at the top of the rankings. She would be 29 on January 18.) In Ivanovic's case, she did it and it would be more than enough. Furthermore, injuries could demoralize athletes unless they loved the sports to pieces. (Juan Martin del Potro is a good example after another remarkable comeback last season. His fans may be disappointed that he won't compete in the Australian Open, but three wrist surgeries would remind him to choose his tournaments wisely.) Ivanovic's fans can see her play in Roland Garros, as organizers will likely invite her to the Women's Legends Doubles. The Serb won't leave the game at all.

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