29-year old Ana Ivanovic formally announced her retirement from professional tennis this week. The Serbian star won her first and only grand slam at age 20, but left a legacy of charm, grace, and a killer forehand in her wake.
After winning the 2008 French Open, Ana appeared to be on her way to a dominant career. But the pressure from capturing that title was a lot for her to handle, and she began falling in the rankings. In June 2008, she was No. 1 in the world—by 2010, she was No. 65. Her next best slam result would come in 2012, reaching the U.S. Open quarterfinals.
Ivanovic's struggles never detracted from her popularity and appeal. She has model good looks, is 6 feet tall, and always seems to be smiling both on and off the tennis court. Regardless of her performance level in a given season, she always espoused positivity.
In 2014, she returned to a more dominant form, finding her way back into the top 5. She defeated Venus Williams in Auckland to start the year and made it to back to back finals a few months later, marking the first time she had achieved such a feat in her career. But by the end of 2014, and into 2015, Ivanovic's struggles returned.
While she could always rely on a consistent and powerful forehand, her serving often let her down in tense matches. Although she could hit her first serve with good pace, it wasn't always accurate. Her ball tosses became inconsistent over the course of her career, getting progressively worse from 2009-2012. In 2013, she hired a new coach, Nigel Sears. He helped her improve her serving and make it a formidable weapon. Despite her size, Ana rarely approached the net early in her career. In recent years, thanks in part to Nigel's coaching, she had gotten better at it.
Ivanovic makes up one half of arguably the biggest sports pairing in the world—she is married to Manchester United star Bastian Schweinsteiger. They wed on July 12th, 2016 in Venice.
What will Ana do for money away from tennis? Well, she recently signed a lifetime contract with Adidas, which means she will continually get paid as a brand ambassador. Meanwhile, her 32 year old husband earns a modest $17 million per year.
Ana Ivanovic will be missed due to her eternal optimism. Even during her less than stellar years on the tour she went through life with a victorious attitude. She always appeared excited and happy to be out there competing. This kind of optimism should be picked up and appreciated by others.