It's now official and the countdown can begin. In less than three months from now tennis player Anna Smashnova will be hanging up her racquet for good. Israel's all time number one tennis player – now with Shahar Peer as well – began as early as last season to cut back the number of tournaments in which she participated.
For over a year now it has been clear that Smashnova is on the last straight of her career. Last season she only played in tournaments she chose, primarily on clay courts, and often complained about the long flights and the things she had to give up as a professional player.
This week during a short family visit, Smashnova spoke for the first time of her plans to retire: "After Wimbledon I won't play any more professional tennis," the 30-year-old said in an interview with ynet. "I have completed one life chapter and now it's time for a new chapter," she said.
Smashnova won the French Open Roland Garos in 1991 at 15, a year after immigrating to Israel with her family from Belarus. At the end of April, Smashnova will represent the Israeli team at a historic match in Canada, the women's' first game in the top league, including 16 of the world's largest teams. (Israel is positioned in the 2nd house and ranked 9 out of 19).
Smashnova took 12 out of 12 women's Tour titles during her 16-year career as a professional. She reached a career-high ranking of 15 in 2003 and has earned some $2.2 million in prize money.
Six months ago, a loss in the Forest Hills finals prevented her from retiring with 100 percent success, which is unprecedented in the world of tennis. But Smashnova does not regret retiring with a less than perfect record.
"I believe in fate, apparently I wasn't supposed to retire without a loss in the finals. I didn't take it to heart," she said.