Bammer Ends Unique & Phenomenal Career
Published July 14, 2011 12:00
BAD GASTEIN, Austria - Having originally retired after Wimbledon, she couldn't help but play just one more tournament when she found out she'd get into the main draw on home soil in Bad Gastein; she even won her first round match at the clay court stop. But her road would come to an end in the second round and on Thursday, two weeks shy of her daughter Tina's 10th birthday, Sybille Bammer brought her unique and phenomenal career to an end.
"Originally Wimbledon was my last tournament. I didn't think I'd play anymore," said Bammer, who turned 31 earlier this year. "But I got into Bad Gastein at the last minute and thought, 'Okay, I like tennis, so I'll play one more!'"
The early years of Bammer's career from 1995 to 2000 were a grind. Her lefty game was promising, but she played almost exclusively in WTA qualifying and on the ITF Circuit - and in her only WTA main draw she lost first round.
Then came Tina. Her self-proclaimed most memorable experience, the birth of her daughter on July 28, 2001 seemed to push her to new heights. She won her first three events back on the ITF Circuit in 2002, and she began creeping into more WTA draws, getting her first Top 100 seasons in 2005 and 2006.
"Tina was very good for my tennis," Bammer said. "After my matches, when I'd see her, I could always stop thinking of tennis and enjoy our time together."
Bammer made headlines the week before the 2007 Australian Open when she beat Serena Williams at the lead-up event in Hobart (Williams would go on to win her eighth Grand Slam title two weeks later). She actually beat Williams in their only other career meeting, on American soil in Cincinnati a few years later.
The 2007 season brought Bammer her first WTA title in Pattaya City (at the time, the first mother to win a WTA title since 1989) and her Top 20 debut (she would peak at No.19); the 2008 season saw her reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open (falling to Jelena Jankovic) and 2009 brought her a second WTA title at Prague (beating Francesca Schiavone in the final).
"My titles and the US Open quarterfinal were both very exciting, and also reaching the semifinals of Indian Wells in 2007 - I lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets, and it was a great tournament for me," Bammer said. "My two wins over Serena were very special too. I don't really know how I did it!
"I also have very good memories of playing on the Austrian Fed Cup team. It was a joy to play for my country and it was always a very good atmosphere."
But after finishing 2007 and 2008 inside the Top 30, Bammer's star began to fall slightly - she finished 2009 at No.55 and 2010 at No.70, and with a 4-8 record on the year going into Wimbledon, she decided it was her time to bow out.
"The first time I thought about retiring was after I injured my shoulder in 2009. I had some big problems - I kept playing and it got better, but I couldn't practice as much as I could before. And then this year after Miami I got sick and couldn't practice for four weeks, and when I started again I wasn't playing so well. So it was around that time I really started thinking about retiring from tennis."
What are her plans now? "I want to relax for a few weeks. I'm going to take some holidays now, just at home - I love Austria and I'm looking forward to enjoying some time in my hometown. In September I'll play team matches for Austria, and maybe down the road I'll work in tennis, as a coach maybe."