LONDON: Daniela Hantuchova called time on her career and voiced the fear and excitement of a top tennis star calling it quits and stepping into the unknown.
Hantuchova, 34, who won a giant fanbase with her supermodel looks, was the world number five who suffered a very public meltdown struggling with the pressure of her rapid rise to the top.
Afterher career back on track, she became only the fifth player to lift every Grand Slam mixed doubles title. Hantuchova also won the 2002 Fed Cup with Slovakia.Her decision to quit came quickly in the last couple of weeks.
“I’ve done so much for so many years. I felt like it was time to close the chapter and start a new life,” she said on Friday, the first full day of her retirement.She last played at Rabat in May before suffering a rib stress fracture.
“For almost two months, I couldn’t really do anything. Suddenly there was a day when I didn’t miss going to the gym and training, for the first time ever. I did my rehab and tried to ignore it, but it just kept coming back.”
A tennis player’s life is dictated by the next match, the next plane, the next city, drifting between hotels around the world on an annual rhythm of tournaments.But despite initial worries, Hantuchova is looking forward to breaking the pattern of her entire adult life.
“The freedom of not knowing is really exciting. It was a bit scary to make that step but once I did it, it felt amazing,” she said.“You know every week what’s going to happen. Now I have no idea what comes next and that’s what I love about it.
“Suddenly I can plan holidays. I can think about where I’m going to spend Christmas — something I’ve not been able to do all my life. It’s those little things that make me so happy.”