Kontaveit: I can no longer play at the level I want to

Anett Kontaveit announces her retirement from pro tennis.
Anett Kontaveit announces her retirement from pro tennis.

On Tuesday morning, Estonia's top tennis player Anett Kontaveit (WTA No. 79) announced her retirement from the sport. Later in the day, Kontaveit held a press conference to shed light on the reasons for her decision and reflect on some of the highlights from her career.

"I have received only very positive feedback. Everyone has been really supportive. It's nice to see that a lot of people have responded to this news, in either a positive or supportive way," Kontaveit said. "This decision didn't happen overnight. My back has been bothering me since the end of last year. I feel that I am no longer able to play at the level I would like to."

"I never make decisions like this based on emotions or my mood. I've tried different variations, talked to physios, done months of exercises, but my back hurts in every game. I'm not able to maintain the level I want. Unfortunately, these things cannot be predicted or controlled. I've been on the WTA circuit for many years and I haven't had any major injuries. But all those years of playing have taken a toll on my body. With an injury like that, nothing gets better. It only gets worse."

"The first time I felt pain in my back was at the tournament in Ostrava, which was just after the tournament in Tallinn," Kontaveit continued. "After that the season was over and I got some rest. However, when I started to play again I immediately felt more pain in my back. It's been like that all year. During a few matches, usually the shorter ones, I didn't feel any pain. But, during long and physical games, my back has been bothering me."

"I discussed it with my family. I told them my thoughts to see how they would react. Everyone has been very supportive and understanding. No one has shown any ill feeling, but of course it's difficult," Kontaveit added tearfully.

Earlier this year, the father of WTA No. 1 Iga Świątek claimed that Kontaveit had become tired of tennis. "Iga is a very nice girl and we get on, but we don't share personal things. I don't know where this kind of statement by her father came from. When it comes to mental health, the body and mind are connected. When the body is tired, it inevitably affects the mind."

"I am really grateful to everyone who has supported me: the fans, supporters and my loved ones. I hope I have shown young Estonian tennis players that it is possible to come from a small country and reach the top from. This is something that young people could take from my career."

Anett Kontaveit signs autographs after the WTA 250 Tallinn Open final. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The most vivid memories Kontaveit has from her career are of reaching the WTA Finals and the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. "All the tournament wins are very vivid and of course, the first win was very special. There was a break in between, but then I won again after many years and that moment was really special too. Playing in front of a home crowd, which was always closest to my heart. It was wonderful to be able to play in a WTA tournament in Tallinn."

"I will miss the moments of competition, the emotions of winning and everything else that comes with being on court. The adrenaline, fighting with yourself, beating your opponent. That's what I'm going to miss," added Kontaveit, who will compete in a Grand Slam tournament for the last time at Wimbledon, which gets under way on July 3.

Anett Kontaveit at the 2021 WTA Finals tournament. Source: SCANPIX/AP

"I hope my back will hold up well and I can enjoy the last few matches. I've always given a hundred percent and so I will also give a hundred percent in my last tournament."

Estonian Tennis Federation (ETL) chief Allar Hint also spoke at the press conference, as did Paavo Nõgene, head of Tallink, a long-time supporter of Kontaveit. "The emotions and memories you have created for me and the entire tennis community are unforgettable," said Hint.

"Tallink has been with you for a long time. You have given us and the whole nation great emotions. It is a sad decision, but of course we understand," Nõgene added.


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Editor: Mchael Cole

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