Ok, maybe all that retirement talk was premature.
On Sunday, Roberta Vinci ended a two-and-a-half year title drought, beating Belinda Bencic 6-4, 6-3 to win the inaugural St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. The title, her first since Palermo in 2013 and her first-ever on the Premier level, brought her career tally to 10 titles and punctuated a dreamy six-month span that has seen Vinci play the best tennis of her career. She will rise to No.13 on Monday; with little to defend until August, a Top 10 debut could be coming soon.
Vinci was ranked outside the Top 50 last summer when she made a run to the Rogers Cup quarterfinals, losing in straight sets to Serena Williams. Of course, we know what's happened since then. One month later she upended Serena at the US Open to make her first major final and continued that momentum into the fall, where she made the semifinals at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open and Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai, losing to eventual champion Venus Williams both times.
At the end of the season, Vinci told reporters in Zhuhai that 2016 would be her final season. Now, after beating both Bencic and Ana Ivanovic to win St. Petersburg, Vinci admits she may have to revisit the decision later this season. "I could change my mind," Vinci told WTA Insider. "I don't want to play more than two or three years for sure. But yeah, maybe not this is my last year. We will see at the end of the season."
WTA Insider caught up with Vinci after her St. Petersburg victory to discuss the current state of her game, more retirement thoughts, and the surprising reason she doesn't consider herself "a real Italian."
WTA Insider: St. Petersburg is a brand new tournament on the calendar this year. What made you decide to play here?
Vinci: Why not? It was a new tournament. I prefer to play. After the Australian Open I spent 10 days off at home. No Fed Cup for me. Just good preparation to come here and I won a great tournament.
WTA Insider: When you returned home after Melbourne, how did you assess your start to the season? Was it a good January or a disappointing one?
Vinci: No, it was a good start of the season. I always play so bad in Australia. This year I played so good in Brisbane, Sydney too. I reached the third round of the Australian Open. For me it was a good start and I'm really happy that I'm confident and in good form and I won here.
WTA Insider: What does it mean for you to win your first title since 2013?
Vinci: It's a lot for me. It's an amazing moment. I'm not young. I'm almost done. I'm really happy. I always tried to my best. It's not easy to practice every single day. For me this tournament was a fantastic moment.
WTA Insider: You keep saying that you're almost done. When I asked you in Wuhan you said this would be your last season. Any thoughts about changing your mind now?
Vinci: I don't want to think about this right now. We are in February. Of course I could change my mind. I don't want to play more than two or three years for sure.
But yeah, maybe not this is my last year. We will see at the end of the season. If I can still motivate and I'm still good, why not? But I don't want to think about it right now. I just want to enjoy my victory here.
WTA Insider: You're playing the best tennis of your career right now. What's the difference? What's changed?
Vinci: I don't know the difference but I've been playing so good since Toronto of last year. So many points, so many results. I don't have a secret. Maybe just relaxed outside the court and enjoy.
WTA Insider: You're up to No.13 now and getting close to breaking into the Top 10.
Vinci: I don't want to think about the ranking. I'm almost Top 10 but we will see. So happy to be No.13 and we will see.
WTA Insider: One thing that's clear is you seem so much fitter now compared to 10 years ago. Do you think you're fitter now?
Vinci: Yeah, much more better than 10 years ago. I lost some kilos and I run a lot more than when I was young.
WTA Insider: Why do you think you're fitter now at 33 than when you were in your early 20s?
Vinci: I don't know. When I was young maybe it was difficult for me to practice and stay focused every single day. Now for me it's much better. I have more experience. I feel more mature, much more than when I was young that's for sure.
WTA Insider: So what will you to celebrate? Are you still headed to Dubai for next week's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships?
Vinci: Tomorrow I will go to Dubai and I will arrive late there and I will play the next day. I'm a little bit tired but happy. Tonight there is a tournament party and we will celebrate there. And then go to bed.
WTA Insider: What's your celebratory drink of choice? Beer? Wine?
Vinci: I don't like beer or wine! Just a Coca-Cola. I'm not a real Italian!
WTA Insider: Really? You're breaking my heart, Roberta...
Vinci: Maybe tonight I can drink a little bit of wine. Maybe.
WTA Insider: It's Valentine's Day, you know.
Vinci: It's true. Ok. One glass of wine. Just one.
Listen to more of Vinci's thoughts on the latest episode of the WTA Insider Podcast:
All photos courtesy of Getty Images.