The Australian Open has been a tournament of many happy memories for former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki.
During her 2008 debut, she won back-to-back grand slam matches for the first time in her career en route to the fourth round at the age of 17. Three years later she reached the semi-finals before losing to Li Na. However, the most special moment in Wozniacki’s career didn’t take place until 2018 when she finally claimed her first ever grand slam title. A perfect way to hit back at the many who criticised her in the past for being a world No.1 without a major title of any sort.
It is for these reasons why Melbourne Park is the perfect venue for the Dane to say goodbye to the sport. The upcoming Australian Open will be her 51st appearance in a grand slam main draw and the last tournament she plays before officially retiring.
“There’s been a lot of thoughts. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, for a while. I just looked at my life, at my career, everything else, and I just had a look inside of myself, and it felt right. It felt like the right time for many reasons.” Wozniacki told reporters on Saturday.
“I’m out here, and I love the sport, I love everything that it’s given me, I love being out there and competing, but I’m ready to start a new chapter in my life.”
During her career, the Dane has won 30 WTA titles and spent 71 weeks as world No.1. She insists that her decision to walk away from the sport at the age of 29 is not connected to her health. In 2019 Wozniacki was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. An auto-immune condition that affects a person’s joints.
Life on the tour hasn’t always been plain-sailing for a player who has also endured her injury issues. However, Wozniacki is confident that she will have no ill feelings regarding her decision in the future.
“I’m leaving with no regrets at all because I’ve worked so hard my whole life, my whole career. I’ve given it literally everything that I have to reach where I got.” She stated.
“I can look back at my career and say I’m very proud of everything that I’ve achieved, very proud of the ups and the downs. But especially to be able to just continually push myself to be a better player, I feel like I’ve given a lot to the sport that I can be very proud of.”
The upcoming departure is one that will gap in the women’s game, according to some of her closest rivals. Two out of Karolina Pliskova’s three WTA titles won during the 2017 was due to wins over Wozniacki in the final. The Czech said she was ‘very sad’ to see her opponent stepping away from the tour.
“I’m sure she’s going to be missed. I think she’s a great person and a great player, too.” Said Pliskova.
“I think she played very good tennis and very good to watch, too. Also in the practice, she always tried hard. Always in the matches, I think it was always great quality against her.”
Simona Halep was the player who Wozniacki beat to win the 2018 Australian Open. The Romanian echoed similar sentiments to Pliskova when speaking out about her.
“She’s a very nice person. We (my team) actually got used to seeing her every day in the tournaments on tour, for sure.” Said Halep.
“She’s going to be missed. Also, I’m sure she has many good things ahead. She will be happy.”
Petra Kvitova played down the idea that Wozniacki’s retirement is premature. The two have locked horns 15 times on the tour at events including the WTA Finals, 2016 Olympic Games Wimbledon. However, they have never got to face off against each other in a final.
“She looks very happy, so I hope that she going to be happy when she stop playing tennis as well. I just wish her the best.” She said.
Wozniacki, who is unseeded in the draw, will start her Australian Open campaign on Monday. In the first round she plays America’s Kristie Ahn.
Image and article courtesy of https://www.ubitennis.net/2020/01/tributes-start-pour-caroline-wozniacki-ahead-australian-open-farewell/