As well as the high-profile retirements of Serena Williams and Andrea Petkovic at the US Open, the Hologic WTA Tour will bid farewell to three more former Top 100 players this year. Christina McHale, Kurumi Nara and Lara Arruabarrena all announced their retirements from professional tennis over the past month.
Christina McHale (USA)
"End of an era," the 30-year-old McHale wrote on social media after playing her final match, a 6-3, 6-1 loss to Ysaline Bonaventure in the first round of US Open qualifying.
"I am so grateful to have had the chance to live out my childhood dream all of these years. At times it feels like my career has gone by so quickly and at other times it feels like a lifetime ago that I first started on tour. I have learned so much through all the ups and downs and have so many amazing memories I will cherish forever."
McHale made her tour-level debut as a wild card at the 2009 Australian Open and scored her first tour-level win 6-3, 6-1 against Polona Hercog at the US Open later that year. The American cracked the Top 100 in March 2011 and the Top 50 six months later. In August of 2012, at the age of 20, she reached her career-high of No.24, before her progress was slowed by mononucleosis.
However, McHale returned to put together a fine career. She reached her first WTA final at Acapulco 2014, defeating Caroline Garcia in the semifinals before falling to Dominika Cibulkova. At the 2016 Tokyo 250, McHale captured her first and only WTA trophy after a title run that saw her win three-setters in all five matches, culminating in a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Katerina Siniakova in the final.
McHale scored six Top 10 victories in her career, including a 6-4, 7-5 defeat of reigning World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki at Cincinnati 2011 and wins versus Petra Kvitova and Garbiñe Muguruza. She also made a habit of playing Serena Williams tough, taking the 23-time major champion to three sets in three of their four meetings, including a high-quality 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-4 loss in the second round of Wimbledon 2016.
McHale reached the third round of a Grand Slam on five occasions -- at least once at each major. She captured two WTA doubles titles, Hobart 2016 with Han Xinyun and Tianjin 2016 with Peng Shuai. The last win of her career came in Toronto qualifying, a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Grace Min and the last tour-level main-draw win came in the first round of the 2021 US Open 6-1, 7-6(5) over Emma Navarro.
Between 2011 and 2020, McHale would finish nine out of 10 seasons inside the Top 100.
Kurumi Nara (JPN)
This week, Kurumi Nara announced that the final tournament of her career will be the Toray Pan Pacific Open this month, where the 30-year-old will compete as a qualifying wild card.
"My tennis life started when I was 3 years old," Nara said in a press release. "Looking back, I am amazed that I could leave my career as a player without a single regret. I am happy to be able to retire with all my strength."
The tournament brings Nara's career full circle. It was the site of her first WTA tournament in 2008, when she also received a qualifying wild card as an unranked 17-year-old, losing to Greta Arn 6-3, 7-6(5). Nara would make her WTA main-draw debut at Osaka 2009, defeating Chanelle Scheepers 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-2 to reach the second round.
Nara debuted in the Top 100 in September of 2013 and would finish inside it for the next four years in a row. Her career-best season was 2014, in which she captured her first and only WTA title on clay in Rio de Janeiro, defeating Hsieh Su-Wei in the first round and Klara Koukalova 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 in the final.
Nara backed that up with a runner-up showing in Washington that year, with wins against Madison Keys and Kristina Mladenovic before falling 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final. She hit a career-high of No.32 in August 2014.
Three years later, Nara would gain revenge over Kuznetsova at the US Open, notching her first and only Top 10 win 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the second round. This result also sealed the third and final Grand Slam third-round showing of Nara's career following the 2013 US Open and 2014 Australian Open.
The last WTA main draw of Nara's career was Birmingham 2021, where she defeated Viktoriya Tomova 6-4, 6-7(1), 6-2 before falling 6-3, 6-0 to Caty McNally in the second round.
Lara Arruabarrena (ESP)
Arruabarrena had not competed since Australian Open qualifying in January, and in August, she announced the end of her professional career via social media.
"Thanks to tennis," the 30-year-old wrote. "A very important stage for me is closing. What my life has been, my day-to-day since I have the use of reason."
Arruabarrena made a splash on her WTA main-draw debut, upsetting Monica Niculescu to reach the 2011 Marbella quarterfinals. She started the tournament as a qualifying wild card ranked No.253. The following February, contesting just her third tour-level main draw, the Spaniard captured her first WTA title at Bogota 2012, defeating Alexandra Panova 6-2, 7-5 in the final.
Arruabarrena would crack the Top 100 in September that year and finish inside it for seven straight seasons until 2018, hitting her career-high of No.52 in July 2017.
Colombia would be a happy hunting ground for Arruabarrena, who reached another two finals in Bogota in 2017 and 2018, as well as winning the 2013 Cali 125 event. This was in keeping with the reputation she built as a clay-court expert.
However, Arruabarrena was also proficient on hard courts. Her second WTA title came at Seoul 2016, where she defeated Niculescu 6-0, 2-6, 6-0 in the final. Both of her completed Top 10 victories also came on hard courts -- a 7-5, 7-5 win over Madison Keys in the third round of Miami 2017 and a 6-7(2), 7-5, 6-1 comeback against Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round of Beijing 2017.
Arruabarrena also collected eight WTA doubles titles with seven different partners between 2013 and 2019. She reached the second round of a major on nine occasions in singles, as well as two Grand Slam quarterfinals in doubles at the 2015 US Open (with Andreja Klepac) and Roland Garros 2018 (with Katarina Srebotnik).
The final tour-level main-draw victory of Arruabarrena's career was a 6-0, 6-0 win against wild card Evelyne Tiron in Cluj-Napoca last August before falling to Mihaela Buzarnescu in the second round. Arruabarrena's last career win came in the first round of 2021 US Open qualifying, where she defeated Magdalena Frech 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.