Fernández Announces Retirement
Published April 24, 2008 12:00
CÓRDOBA, Argentina - She had flashes of brilliance interspersed with struggles with injury, and in the end those injuries proved too much. Clarisa Fernández, perhaps best known for reaching the semifinals of Roland Garros in 2002 and reaching the Top 30 shortly afterwards, announced her retirement from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour earlier this month after a lengthy battle with knee injuries.
Fernández began playing tennis when she was six years old but only began taking it seriously at 15, training with the man who would eventually become her full-time coach, Leonardo Lerda. She played her first professional tournament at an ITF Women's Circuit event in Buenos Aires in 1997, and after a few years began playing regularly on the Tour.
"I started playing seriously pretty late, and it was thanks to Leonardo and all of his help that I could make it," Fernández said. "I improved so much when I began working with him and there was even more to come after I started on the Tour."
The 2002 season brought the left-hander her best career results, including a breakout fortnight on the terre battue of Roland Garros, where - ranked No.87 in the world - she became one of the most unlikely semifinalists in the tournament's history, stunning then-world No.4 Kim Clijsters along the way before falling to then-No.2 Venus Williams. In 2003, she made it all the way to No.26 in the world.
But in May of 2003, just a few months after cracking the Top 30, she began a lengthy, on-and-off struggle with her knees. She would undergo three surgeries - one in 2004, one in 2005 and one in 2007 - but since it was a complication she had since birth, the problem never quite went away. The most recent operation was on her right knee; after this year's Australian Open she began struggling with her left knee, which seemed to be the final straw.
"Reaching the Roland Garros semifinals was important for me, as was getting all the way to No.26 in 2003. I felt I was getting better and better and I have so many great memories from those years, despite the injuries. But when I started having problems again after the Australian Open this year, I decided it was time."
Fernández is in the process of finishing her high school degree and in September will begin studying at the University of Business Administration in Córdoba.
"If everything goes well, I'm hoping to spend the next few years focusing on my studies, and then hopefully I can find a new career in the tennis world. Tennis is my passion and I will always feel connected with it."