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Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Friday, 29 October 2010 17:35 UK

Elena Dementieva announces retirement in Doha

Elena Dementieva announces her retirement in front of her fellow players
Dementieva announced her retirement in front of her fellow players in Doha

Olympic champion and world number nine Elena Dementieva announced her retirement from tennis after her final match at the WTA Championships in Doha.

The 29-year-old Russian delivered the shock news after losing to Francesca Schiavone in the group stages of the season-ending tournament.

Dementieva reached two Grand Slam finals during her career, at the French Open and the US Open in 2004.

"This is my last tournament," she told the Doha crowd.

"Thank you to all of the people that I have worked with for such a long time. I would like to thank all of the players for an amazing experience. It's very emotional.

Elena is a great player and I think she has been a great inspiration for a lot of young Russians

Vera Zvonareva

"I would like to thank all of the people around the world for supporting me through my career. And I would like to thank my family, especially my mum."

Dementieva said she had decided at the beginning of 2010 that this would be her last season, saying it "was very emotional for me to play all year".

She added that her family had tried to convince her to play for two more years.

"They were very surprised (by the decision)," she said. "I was really looking for some support. I think nobody was really happy about it, maybe except my boyfriend."

Dementieva was joined on court for the announcement by her fellow competitors and mother - and coach - Vera, who has travelled for many years with her daughter.

US Open champion Kim Clijsters paid tribute to Dementieva, saying: "She has been one of the players I grew up with playing in juniors. It's nice to see her looking forward to something new in her life.

"She has been one of the most professional players, one of the nicest girls on the court."

Fellow Russian and world number two, Vera Zvonareva, added: "Elena is a great player and I think she has been a great inspiration for a lot of young Russians.

"She was a role model. I looked up to her. She had such a great career. Right now, the whole country will be sad and everyone will support her."

Dementieva enjoyed her greatest success at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she beat Serena Williams, Vera Zvonareva and Dinara Safina on her way to the gold medal.

606: DEBATE
VenusSerena

She won 16 singles titles during her 12-year career on the WTA Tour and six in doubles, earning almost £9m in prize money.

Born and raised in Moscow, Dementieva was a key figure as Russian players became a powerful force, in the women's game especially, during the last decade.

Her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros in 2004 was also the first ever all-Russian final at a major, but Dementieva lost to Anastasia Myskina as her serve let her down - something that would become an unwelcome feature of her game.

Three months later, Dementieva's physical fitness and unerring groundstrokes again helped her to within one victory of a Grand Slam title but this time another compatriot, Svetlana Kuznetsova, denied her at Flushing Meadows.

On seven other occasions she reached the semi-finals at Grand Slam events but she could never return to a final, with her dramatic defeat by Serena Williams at Wimbledon last year particularly emotional as the American saved a match point.

It proved to be Dementieva's last match at Wimbledon as she missed out this year with a calf injury, ending a run of 46 consecutive appearances at Grand Slams.

"Elena has been a champion and consummate professional on and off the court throughout her career," said WTA chairman Stacey Allaster. "She has also been a catalyst for the growth of the sport in Russia and around the world. We will miss her and wish her the best of luck."

Among her other achievements, Dementieva won silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, led Russia to Fed Cup victory in 2005 and reached a career-high of three in the world in 2009.

Serena Williams

Highlights - Serena overcomes Dementieva



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see also
Dementieva secures singles gold
17 Aug 08 |  Tennis
Kuznetsova takes US title
12 Sep 04 |  US Open 2004
Dementieva weeps after loss
05 Jun 04 |  Tennis


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