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Former world number one Ivanovic announces retirement

By Samuel Lovett

Former world No 1 and French Open champion Ana Ivanovic has retired from tennis at the age of 29. The Serbian made the announcement via Facebook last night.

After her disappointing fifth-round exit from last August's US Open, Ivanovic revealed that she would be ending her season early to fully recover from a series of injuries that have hindered her in recent years.

Although she insisted at the time she would be returning to the sport, Ivanovic has now decided to bring her career to a close.

"There is no other way to say this. I have decided to retire from professional tennis. It was a difficult decision but there is so much to celebrate," Ivanovic said on her Facebook page.

"Don't be sad, be optimistic alongside me. My love and my greatest thank you to all of you.

"I've seen highs I never dreamed off - I've played so many memorable matches.

"It's well known that I've been hampered by injury… I can no longer perform to my high standards so it's time to move on.

"All I can say is that I've lived my dreams and I hope I've encouraged others to do so."

She added that she would become an ambassador within sport.

Ivanovic's future within the sport had come under question in recent years, with the Serb struggling to recreate the form that saw her secure her only Grand Slam title at the French Open in 2008.

After victory at Roland Garros, Ivanovic endured a prolonged period of reduced success, failing to make a Grand Slam quarter-final in her subsequent 15 major tournaments.

Her world ranking dropped as low as No 65 during the 2010 season and despite a resurgence in recent years - the Serb ended 2014 as No 5 in the world rankings - Ivanovic found herself back out of form.

The 29-year-old endured a particularly tough 2016 season, winning 15 matches all year, the most recent in June, and slipping to 63rd in the rankings.

Ivanovic, who married Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger earlier this year, said she will explore opportunities in business, beauty and fashion in retirement and said it will allow her more time for her work with Unicef, with whom she holds the position of National Ambassador for Serbia.

Meanwhile, in local tennis, Karola Bejenaru made a winning start to her bid to claim the Irish Indoor title for the third year in a row in Dublin yesterday.

The 19-year-old Windsor player overcame Georgia Lily Lynn-Browne 6-1, 6-1 with little difficulty to book her place in the quarter-finals.

It's been a frustrating few months for the Romanian-born player, who was forced to sit out the action on the professional tour for four weeks after sustaining an ankle injury in November.

She had been rediscovering her form after a disappointing summer when a freak accident ruled her out as she stood on a ball and damaged ligaments during a doubles match.

In the junior event in Dublin yesterday, Bangor's Harry Ellesmere and Belfast teen Ethan Hance reached the last eight of their respective events.

Ellesmere defeated Mark Borisov 6-2, 6-1 at Under 16 level while Hance had a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Frank Fagan in the U14 category.

Belfast Telegraph

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