One thing that elite athletes agree on is this: When you stop loving the sport, you stop competing at the top of your game. That, in a nutshell, is why Amélie Mauresmo decided to retire — much too soon for those of us who love to watch her arms, er, game.
In her announcement, Mauresmo was emotional, but very direct about her reason for retirement: “I don’t want to train anymore.”
The decision comes after a hard-won victory at the Paris Open this year — her first tournament win since 2007.
Her career, which started at age 16 with a wild-card entry at Roland-Garros, includes 25 singles titles and $15 million in prize money, including wins at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Her game was a thing of beauty.
“I dreamt of this career, I dreamt of winning a Grand Slam title,” she said. “I lifted trophies in every city in the world and I lived 10 magical and unbelievable years.”
But she has never seemed too comfortable with the limelight — and admitted to a struggle against her nerves at every major tournament. That makes her success even more remarkable, IMO.
And of course, Mauresmo never hid the fact that she is a lesbian. We may never really know what effect homophobia had on her. But we can’t forget when Lindsay Davenport made ill-considered remarks about her masculine physique and Martina Hingis called her “half man, half woman” in a radio interview. (Davenport later apologized; Hingis did not.)
We do know, though, that Mauresmo didn’t lose any endorsement deals when she leapt into the arms of her girlfriend after winning the Australian Open. And her sexual orientation has not been an issue in media commentary about her game or her life. For that, groundbreakers like Martina and Billie Jean can be proud.
WTA Tour chairperson Stacey Allaster had this to say: “Amélie will go down in history as one of the best players of her generation and a terrific ambassador for women’s tennis. Amélie is an extraordinary player, one of the nicest and friendliest personalities on Tour, and a true champion both in tennis and in life.”
Thank you, Amélie, for giving us your best on court and off. Enjoy your rest.