BARCELONA, Spain - Former World No.19 María José Martínez Sánchez has announced her retirement, 22 years after making her professional debut.
"I thought the time would not come," the Spaniard wrote on social media. "I announce that I have made the decision to complete my career. It has been many years dedicated to something that I love and I can only thank all those who have accompanied me along the way. Glad to close a stage and start a new one! Satisfied with what was achieved and wanting to undertake new adventures.
Many thanks to everyone and I will keep you informed of my next challenges!"
Martínez Sánchez was a standout junior in singles and doubles, runner-up in the 2000 Australian Open girls' singles to Aniko Kapros and 2000 Roland Garros girls' doubles champion alongside Anabel Medina Garrigues (defeating Matea Mezak and Dinara Safina in the final), foreshadowing a professional career in which the idiosyncratic serve-and-volleyer would excel in both disciplines. Initially, success came to Martínez Sánchez quickly: she made her Grand Slam debut at the 2001 Australian Open as an 18-year-old qualifier, where she took Venus Williams to three sets in the first round, and cracked the Top 100 four months later.
However, injuries, loss of form and personal issues all took their toll, and after sinking out of the Top 200 in 2003, Martínez Sánchez would take a year-long hiatus in 2004. But the best was still ahead: after slowly working her way back up the rankings, the Yecla native would return to the Top 100 in 2008, the year she made her maiden WTA final in Barcelona, losing to Maria Kirilenko.
Over the next half-decade, Martínez Sánchez would become a Top 100 fixture, lifting five trophies and becoming something of an upset artist, with her variety and net skills scoring her seven Top 10 wins - including three over Caroline Wozniacki, whom she defeated in the 2009 Bastad final. She would also rack up six third-round finishes at Grand Slams - at least once at each major.
Martínez Sánchez's finest moment in singles was undoubtedly her shock Rome title in 2010. Jelena Jankovic had garnered all the attention during that tournament for her back-to-back defeats of Venus and Serena Williams to reach the final, but it was ultimately Martínez Sánchez who would be crowned champion after pulling off a double of her own, defeating the Serbian duo of Ana Ivanovic and Jankovic in the last two rounds.
In doubles, though, Martínez Sánchez would scale even greater heights, reaching World No.4 in July 2010. She would reach three Grand Slam semifinals in the discipline and ultimately win 21 WTA doubles titles, and between 2008 and 2012 was half of a formidable team with fellow Spaniard Nuria Llagostera Vives. Together, they would defeat Cara Black and Liezel Huber in an epic 2009 WTA Finals title match, winning the biggest trophy of their partnership 7-6, 5-7, [10-7].
After Martínez Sánchez gave birth to daughter Andrea in 2013, she would return to the tour as a doubles specialist, netting two further titles, three runner-up finishes and two more WTA Finals appearances in 2017-18 in a longstanding collaboration with Slovenia's Andreja Klepac - but it was partnering Croatia's Darija Jurak that she would win the final title of her career in The Bronx last year and play the final match, a second-round loss in Beijing to Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan.