Kimiko Date, who is 46 years old, will keep playing on the WTA tour and the Challenger circuit this season and says she would like to compete injury-free again.
Date couldn’t play during the beginning of this year because she had two operations on her left knee. She returned to court in May, but is still hurting. Date lost in the first round of an International Tennis Federation event in Stockton, Calif., this week.
"Still I have problem with my shoulder," Date told the NorCal Tennis Czar blog.
"That's why I cannot hit 100 percent,” she said. “But just to enjoy to play tennis. I love competition, I love traveling. Everybody asking me, 'Why you continue to play? Anytime you can stop.' I don't need to stop. One day when I feel it's time to stop, of course I will stop. But still I want to continue."
In the 1990s, the former world No. 4 reached the semis at the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon. She returned from a 12-year retirement in 2008 to break into the Top 100 again, and in 2013 she upset former No. 3 Nadia Petrova at the Australian Open.
But during the past three years Date has been hurt frequently.
"I don't need a ranking anymore. Also, it's difficult to be Top 100 anymore,” she said. “I just want to play 100 percent, not worry about my body, just focus on the ball and try 100 percent on the match. Then maybe I feel it's time to stop. But last two, three years, always I have some problem, so it's difficult."