Dulko Announces Retirement

Argentina’s Gisela Dulko, a former doubles World No.1, announced her retirement from professional tennis on Sunday on her website. The 27-year-old steps away from the game to focus on other priorities with four WTA singles titles and 17 in doubles.

“Tennis has been my life for 20 years,” said Dulko, who finishes with 309 singles match wins to her name, 305 in doubles, and total prize money earnings of $4,246,105. “I started playing when I was seven and knew from a young age that I wanted to be a professional tennis player. I gave tennis my total devotion. With all my energy and my love I achieved things I never believed possible. Today I am proud to say I enjoyed my career so very much. All of my titles in singles and doubles will forever hold a very special place in my heart.”

“I want to congratulate Gisela on her amazing career and achievements on the court,” said WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster. “Her talent and dedication to the game made her an inspirational champion and ambassador for the sport. I know that I speak for the players, tournaments and fans around the world in saying that we wish Gisela the best of luck in her future endeavors. She will be missed, and we hope that she will stay close to the sport.”

In singles Dulko reached eight WTA finals, her most recent title coming on red clay at Acapulco in 2011. In Grand Slam play she reached the round of 16 on three occasions, at Roland Garros in 2006 and 2011 and the US Open in 2009. She ended the year ranked inside the Top 50 in five of the past nine seasons, achieving her career high of No.26 on November 21, 2005. Along the way she posted nine wins over Top 10 opponents, and registered a memorable three set defeat of former champion Maria Sharapova in the second round of Wimbledon in 2009.

Dulko, who was coached on tour by her brother Alejandro, reached even greater heights in doubles. Among her 17 titles, she won the WTA Championships in 2010 partnering Italy’s Flavia Pennetta. The pair followed that victory in Doha with triumph at the 2011 Australian Open, their 11th trophy together and a maiden Grand Slam title for both. The win at the WTA Championships saw Dulko rise to No.1 on the doubles rankings on November 1, 2010, where she stayed for 24 weeks, joined by Pennetta the following February. The duo, named WTA Doubles Team of the Year for 2010, again qualified for the WTA Championships in 2011, falling to Americans Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond in the semifinals.

Among other accomplishments, Dulko represented her country with distinction as a member of the Argentine Fed Cup Team (2000, 2004-09, 2011) and Olympic Team (2004, 2008, 2012). At this year’s London Games she teamed up with doubles legend Paola Suárez, who came out of a five-year retirement in order to compete with her younger countrywoman.

Dulko married professional footballer Fernando Gago at a ceremony in Buenos Aires in July 2011.

From WTATennis.com:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dear friends,

I would like to share with you that I have come to an important life-decision. I am retiring from professional tennis. This was not an easy decision, despite the fact that it has been on my mind for quite some time. Tennis has been my life for the past 20 years. I started playing when I was seven and knew from a young age that I wanted to be a professional tennis player. I gave tennis my total devotion. With all my energy and my love I achieved things I never believed possible. Along the long road, there were many great moments and some which were not so great. Today I am proud to say that I enjoyed my career so very much. All of my titles in singles and doubles will forever hold a very special place in my heart.

The reason why I have decided to retire from tennis is because I now have other priorities on which I want to focus. As a result, I don’t have the same desire or ability to make the sacrifices which are necessary to live the life of a tennis professional.

I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of my career, who helped me grow and was always with me… my coaches, fitness trainers, psychologist, managers and sponsors. A lot of people contributed to the success of my career. To all of you, thank you so very much. My mother Ana is the person who taught me how to fight and to keep moving forward under any circumstance. I owe my mom everything. Thanks to her I am who I am and I thank her with all of my heart for having supported me so much and for always having believed in me. Thank you to my father Estanislao. Even though he is no longer with me, he has always been along side of me as my angel on this road. Despite the fact that I missed my father’s physical presence, I imagined him court-side, watching me and enjoying every shot. That is what he used to do from when I was seven years old until the last day of my career. Thank you, Ale, my brother and coach for eight years – through all my years as a professional tennis player. It was for you that I began to play tennis and without you I could not have achieved anything at all. Thank you for teaching me so much. Being siblings made our challenge of pursuing a tennis career as brother and sister that much more difficult. Still, we achieved so much together. We were able to separate the brother from the player on the court and the coach from the brother off the court and that made us inseparable. Besides being a man with a gigantic heart, you have been my protector. You played the role of a brother, coach, father and friend. You played every role in my career and in my life and you did it so well. I will forever be grateful to you.

Thank you to my husband for having supported me since the day we met. We knew that distance would be part of our lives and make it very hard to carry on a relationship. My husband made our life together easy. Thanks to his love and respect of my career we were able to do it and today a whole lifetime together awaits.

Thanks to my grandparents, my nephews and nieces, my sister-in-law, my uncles and aunts, my cousins, and my friends for all of their support.

A very special thanks to Flavia Pennetta. Together we became No.1 in the world in doubles, won a Grand Slam and a Championships title. The most beautiful memory I carry of Flavia, however, is our friendship.

Thanks to all of my fans for all their love, and thank you also those who criticized me with respect.

Thanks to the WTA. It was a pleasure to work with you throughout the years. I have met so many people and have also taken away innumerable nice friendships. To all the players who continue their careers, I wish the best of luck.

This is my way of saying goodbye to tennis, a sport with which I fell in love as a very young girl and will continue to love my whole life.