“I can only play if I can perform up to my own high standards, and I can no longer do that,” Ana Ivanovic said on Wednesday. “So it’s time to move on.”
Ivanovic was a championship player—at 20 years old, she reached No. 1 and won the French Open—and an even more accomplished motormouth. But once you caught up with her words, you realized that it wasn’t their speed that was important. What mattered was the honesty, thoughtfulness and friendly enthusiasm that they conveyed to everyone she met.
For all of her ups and downs over the last decade, and despite the deep frustrations she felt during those down periods, Ivanovic never shrugged off a press conference, bristled at a reporter or let her eyes glaze over after being asked the same thing 10 times in two days. She always engaged with the question and the questioner; she was too sociable and polite to do anything else.
By most accounts, the Serb was the same way with her fellow players. In 2010, she told a British reporter that the ultra-competitive atmosphere on the WTA tour meant that she and her colleagues were “not friends.” But judging by the reaction to her retirement from her colleagues, she had no trouble making them herself, with women of all nationalities and playing levels.