Remembering Retirees in 2022 — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Sept. 20, 2022

Happy Tennis Tuesday! This week, the tour touches down in Asia for the first time since 2019, but the biggest news of the sports world was Roger Federer announcing his retirement. This had me thinking — why not recap some of the 2022 retirements that didn’t take over the headlines?

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Kim Clijsters, then-World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and of course Serena Williams are three players who said farewell, but there have been dozens of players this year who have stepped away from the game for good. I admit, with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics happening last year, I wonder why we’re seeing a lot more retirements in 2022. Most players chose an Olympic year as their sendoff, but this year has seen an uptick, in my opinion.

Three players I mentioned very briefly throughout the year, but I only gave them a single blurb when they deserve more. Honestly, writing this blurb sucks because what could’ve been. However, injuries are a part of the game and the demand the current level professional tennis physically puts on the body, some genetically can’t endure longevity.

Laura Robson
Age: 28
Turned Pro: 2008
Career-High Ranking: No. 27 in singles, No. 82 in doubles
Titles: 3 ITF singles titles, 4 ITF doubles titles
Career Accomplishments: 2008 Wimbledon Junior champion, 2009 & 2010 Australian Open junior finalist, 2010 Hopman Cup finalist, 2012 Olympic silver medalist, 2012 WTA Newcomer of the Year

Laura Robson captured the Junior Wimbledon crown in 2008 at just 14 years old and then four years later, she grabbed a silver medal in mixed doubles at the London Olympics and was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year. The following year, she would crack the Top 30, peaking at No. 27. In 2014, she sat out for nearly the entire year following wrist surgery and had another the next year. She wouldn’t have the same results following and then injuries would strike again — this time with her hips. She had her first hip surgery in 2018 and would have two more since then to have any chance of coming back. Her final match was a retirement to Harriet Dart during her third comeback tournament in 2019. Because she accepted an invitation to play the Wimbledon Invitational Doubles tournament, she announced her retirement in May at the age of 28. While she admits it’s a bitter pill to swallow to admit she’s done, she’s — in my opinion — on her way to being among the best commentators in the game. She’s been a delight on the World Feed and Radio Wimbledon and I’m hoping we’ll see her more.

Cici Bellis
Age: 23
Turned Pro: 2014
Career-High Ranking: No. 35 in singles, No. 149 in doubles
Titles: 1 WTA 125k singles title, 7 ITF singles titles, 2 ITF doubles titles
Career Accomplishments: 2014 ITF Junior World Champion, 2014 Roland Garros Junior Doubles finalist, 2015 WTA Newcomer of the Year

Someone who also has stepped into the commentary arena — this time on Tennis Channel — is Cici Bellis. She launched on the tennis scene in 2014 when she captured the USTA National Championship and as a 14-year-old wildcard ranked outside the Top 1000, she upset No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova in the first round. Because of the result, she decided to bypass a verbal commitment to Stanford and turn professional. She, like Robson, would earn the No. 1 ITF junior ranking and the American also earned the 2017 WTA Newcomer of the Year award. That was the year she reached No. 35 in the WTA rankings before her original wrist injury appeared the following year. By age 22, she had four surgeries across her arm, wrist and elbow and from the spring of 2018, only played 11 tournaments. She showed promise, making the third round of the Australian Open and capturing an $80,000 ITF event. However, the pain consistently persisted and at the end of 2021 following constant bouts of rehab, she said goodbye in January. However, on top of her commentary duties, she finished her undergraduate degree through the WTA’s program with Indiana University East and will be pursuing her MBA while working for a venture capital firm that specializes in startups in the sports and health technology sectors.

Monica Puig
Age: 28
Turned Pro: 2010
Career-High Ranking: No. 27 in singles, No. 210 in doubles
Titles: 1 WTA singles title, 6 ITF singles titles
Career Accomplishments: 2016 Olympic gold medalist, 3-time Gold and 2-time bronze medalist at the Central American and Caribbean Games, 2-time Pan American Games singles medalist, 2014 WTA Rising Stars Invitational champion, 2011 Australian Open & Roland Garros singles finalist

Someone who unfortunately can empathize with surgeries is Monica Puig, who of the three, had the most success. This one hurts the most because she made her long-awaited comeback in May and the following week, reinjured her shoulder. Puig would break through in 2014 when she was fan-voted into the inaugural WTA Rising Stars Invitational and then won the event. The following year, she captured her lone WTA singles crown, but it was her 2016 Rio Olympic run that sealed her in the history books. She captured the first-ever Gold medal for Puerto Rico and first female medalist (and ninth overall). Her reaction to winning match point over Angelique Kerber is something I catch on occasion and just smile. She really embraced why the Olympics are so special and carried that spirit through her run. The medal catapulted her into stardom and unfortunately, her results stalled as she hit a career-high. In 2019, she had her first surgery on her elbow, which then followed by another pair on her shoulder. Because of a compressed nerve in her elbow, she had permanent nerve damage and then suffered from torn biceps, labrum and rotator cuff. From the end of 2019, she had only played 5 events — three at the end of 2020 and the two this past May. Her comeback in Madrid was bittersweet because the following week, she re-tore her rotator cuff and retired in her first match at a WTA 125 event. That was enough for Puig to pull the plug and fully dive into broadcaster mode, which she’s killing for ESPN Deportes. I’m crossing my fingers she’ll eventually crossover into the American ESPN and join the team there, but for now, she’s having an impact for the Spanish-speaking.

These three players could ultimately make a comeback still — they’re not even 30 yet! However, between commentating and entering the business world, perhaps they will have more impact off the court.

Scroll down for a few more recent retirements from the last few weeks, but now….onto links!

This Week in Women’s Tennis

The future is here already with 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova capturing her first WTA singles title at the Chennai Open with a three-set win over Magda Linette. After only her eighth WTA main draw, the Czech cracks the Top 100 as a result. The doubles title was won by two The IX alums, Gaby Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani over Anna Blinkova and Natela Dzalamidze. The pair, who have made the final in all five events they’ve played together, reunited for Stefani’s first tournament since she tore her ACL in the US Open semifinals last year.

At the Zavarovalnica Sava Portoroz, Katerina Siniakova won a three-hour epic over Elena Rybakina to claim her third WTA singles title. It was the first singles title since 2017 for the Doubles No. 1. The doubles title went to Marta Kostyuk and Tereza Martincova, who routed Cristina Bucsa and Tereza Mihalikova for their first WTA title of any kind.

Local fans in Bucharest were excited to see Irina-Camelia Begu claim the inaugural Tiriac Foundation Trophy. The Romanian defeated Reka Luca Jani in straight sets to win her second WTA-level crown in Bucharest. The doubles title was won by Aliona Bolsova and Andrea Gamiz, who defeated Jani and Panna Udvardy.

Madison Keys’ foundation, Kindness Wins, had their annual Kindness Wins Day with the aim of raising enough money to renovate tennis courts in various underserved communities.

Mary Carillo was awarded the 2022 Georgina Clark Award at the WTA Legends & Friends Reunion during the US Open. She was honored for her “significant contribution to the culture and emotional life of the WTA family, worked to improve the sport for all, and gone above and beyond to help the less fortunate.”

Though the WTA Finals were announced that they will be held in Fort Worth, Texas before returning to China next year, CEO Steve Simon said that their boycott will remain in effect until they have an unbiased, thorough investigation into Peng Shuai’s claims.

The staff gathered together to have a roundtable about the 2022 Grand Slam season.

Genie Bouchard reached the quarterfinals in Chennai, her first since her shoulder surgery, and she shared how coming back was the only option for her.

After a 2022 that saw a re-entry into the Top 10, Simona Halep is shutting down her season following her nasal procedure last week.

I’ve mentioned how creating tournaments in areas of massive potential should be at the top of the WTA’s list and Chennai is a great example. They are hopeful that this year’s one-off tournament will catapult into an annual event, as well as creating a boom in local talent.

Congratulations to new mom, Johanna Konta!

US Open champ Iga Swiatek, runner-up Ons Jabeur and GOAT Serena Williams had quite the post-US Open with the media.

Though LSU has a new coaching staff, they still have found a way to get in the news for the wrong reasons. Freshman walk-on Maddie Scharfenstein has apparently been dismissed from the team after she was recorded using a racial slur. Kids, do better.

The upcoming WTA 500 in San Diego is loooooooaaaaddddeeeeedddd and that’s being generous.

Venus Williams was getting in some good reps in Seattle of all places:

Tweet of the Week

Daria Saville is a mood in Tokyo. She’s honestly the gift that keeps on giving

Five at The IX: Top 100 mainstays retiring in 2022

Katarina Srebotnik

Andrea Petkovic

Lara Arruabarrena

Kurumi Nara

Christina McHale

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon