Former Doubles No.1 and Wimbledon singles semifinalist Barbora Strycova has announced her impending retirement. The Czech veteran still holds out hope that she will be able to say her final farewell on a match court in 2022.
"Dear fans...or I should say friends," Strycova wrote. "As you might have heard, I announced my retirement from professional tennis today. It feels weird. Until now, tennis was the only world I knew. I have always had enormous love for this amazing sport. Even though all the pain, tears, renunciation and sweat, all the great moment and victories were worth it!
"I never planned to end my career during a pandemic. However, some moments in life just can't be planned and I am super excited for my next life role as a mom. It doesn't mean I will accept that fact that I didn't play my last match in front of an audience.
"Once it's possible, I will play one last match...in front of you. To say a proper goodbye."
A Wimbledon singles semifinalist and doubles champion, as well as an Olympic bronze medalist and member of the Czech Republic's Billie Jean King Cup dynasty, the 34-year-old has not played a tournament since the Australian Open. In March, she announced her pregnancy and is expecting a son in September.
"I want to play another match with the spectators," Strycova said in an interview with iSport.cz. "I'm saying goodbye to my career, it's the end, and I don't expect to return to the Tour. But I would like to say goodbye to the fans. I've needed them in my career.
"It's been a colorful, up-and-down career. I'm very grateful for it, and the people and sponsors who have stood by me and continue to stand by me. It's been a ride."
While her focus will be on family, Strycova hopes to stay involved in tennis in the future. The Plzen-native is set to finish her career having reached a career-high No.16 in singles, winning two WTA singles titles and 31 doubles titles. Her greatest triumph came just two years ago at 2019 Wimbledon, where she advanced to her first major singles semifinal, won the doubles title with Hsieh Su-Wei, and became No.1 in doubles for the first time in her career.
"I'm at peace with ending it, and that I'm going to become a mother. That's how it had to be. Tennis led me through my whole life. It was my everything. Now it's over and there will be something else. I'm at peace with it."
"It took me a while [to be at peace with it]. But I'm so happy for it, and I'm excited for this new adventure that awaits me."
Strycova's dream is for her final farewell to be a nod to the beloved grass at Wimbledon or at home in the Czech Republic, where she became a national hero as an Olympic bronze medalist in Rio and foundational member of the Czech team that captured six Billie Jean King Cup titles over the last decade.
"I had the greatest success [at Wimbledon] and it's the Mecca of tennis, for me," Strycova said. "If it doesn't work out, I'll do a farewell here in the Czech Republic, but it will be after the maternity leave. When I lose those kilos!"
A beloved member of the WTA locker room, here's how the tennis world reacted to Strycova's big announcement:
Barus, gratuluju Ti ke skvele kariere. Bylo pro me cti byt Tvou tymovou kolegyni.— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) May 4, 2021
Jsem rada, ze jsem s Tebou mohla stat na stejne strane kurtu i na te opacne. Tesim se na to, az se stanes maminkou 🤗@BaraStrycova pic.twitter.com/H7ky8A1yU0
Good luck with the next phase.. we have some amazing laughs and memories on and off the court 🤗 will miss seeing you and our inappropriate jokes 😂 congratulations on an amazing career B https://t.co/qXo3MMn2aT— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) May 4, 2021
No words.. Crazy and fun memories with you on the (junior) tour! Will miss you my friend. Forever my pikachu ❤— Kirsten Flipkens (@FlipperKF) May 4, 2021
❤️ you are going to be an awesome mum ! Congrats on a great career and for always being yourself on tour! Can’t wait to see you again xxx— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) May 4, 2021
love you ❤️— Andrea Petkovic (@andreapetkovic) May 4, 2021
Oh farewell Bara... we will never forget your brilliant last Wimbledon which we were able to share ... and what a wonderful mother you will be, best wishes, Paul Mac— 🎗️ Paul McNamee (@PaulFMcNamee) May 4, 2021
All the best in your next adventure 💜💚 pic.twitter.com/Ghg9088yXk— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) May 4, 2021
You will be missed, Queen Bee👸🏻🐝— WTA Linz (@WTALinz) May 4, 2021
Thanks for all the memories, the fun & the emotions to our 2017 #wtalinz champion @BaraStrycova! 🇨🇿
We will never forget about the Kaiserschmarrn surprise! 😆@wta | #farewell #byebyebarbora pic.twitter.com/qgOeJepKGL
I don’t remember it but I am still sure I was right. 😂— Barbora Strycova (@BaraStrycova) May 4, 2021