TOKYO (Reuters) – Former world number four Kiki Bertens bid farewell to her singles tennis career on Saturday after a tough three-set loss to Marketa Vondrousova in the first round of the Tokyo Olympics.
The 29-year-old Dutchwoman, who will still compete in the women’s and mixed doubles events, announced in June that she plans to retire at the end of 2021 but confirmed this week that she will call her a day after the Games. .
Bertens, who will end her career as a 21st-ranked player, told Reuters she does not regret rolling the curtains, having made the decision in part because of a lingering Achilles injury for which she had surgery last year.
“I think I can be really proud of myself. I never would have dreamed of what I achieved,” she said after her match.
“There are so many memories, so many great people that I have met over the years. I just leave with a happy face and no regrets.”
In his best Grand Slam performance, Bertens reached the semi-finals of Roland Garros 2016 before losing to Serena Williams.
She then climbed the rankings, winning 10 singles and doubles titles each, and reaching 4th place in May 2019.
Bertens said she gave her all in a tense 4-6, 6-3, 4-6 loss to Czech Vondrousova, with the pair playing in empty stands on Saturday after organizers banned spectators to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
â(The crowds) would have been of course. But on the other hand, I had my whole team behind me today. They were supporting me on every point,â said Bertens.
“I know my family and close friends are watching from home. I had the feeling on the pitch that they were with me. I was just fighting but it was not enough.”
After falling behind on a set to start the match, Bertens put on a spirited performance, coming back against 41st Vondrousova to win the second set 6-3.
But she couldn’t capitalize on the momentum, losing a break in the third game of the final set.
She saved two match points on Vondrousova’s serve in the last game, but couldn’t handle a third, hitting a long backhand to send the Czech into the second round of the Olympics for the first time.
Vondrousova will then face the Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu or the American Alison Riske.
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)