NOT THE RETIRING KIND
Jun 14, 2012, 7:44:48 AM
Very often it is more than a difficult task for a tennis player to come to a decision on when they should retire from the game. They have never known anything but planes, courtesy cars, tennis courts, racquets and...
Very often it is more than a difficult task for a tennis player to come to a decision on when they should retire from the game. They have never known anything but planes, courtesy cars, tennis courts, racquets and hotels etc. so it is a scary proposition. The majority of them start in their teens and it’s been a sheltered life. But when the results are not there and the injuries are keeping you off the courts and denting your confidence and match play when you are on the courts, you got to wonder if it is all worth it; especially when you have been at the pinnacle of the sport. No one wants to see a once tremendous player struggling and losing to players with half their ability and maybe just 10% of the notoriety. It’s almost like the story of Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard” or more recently like George Valentin the central character in “The Artist”. During the tournament at The Queen’s Club two war horses, each four time winners were sent packing – Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick. It’s tough seeing both of them in a situation where their once great aura is no longer an aura but maybe just a dim glow and while it is not a case of forcing them out or pushing them out, one certainly wonders how much more frustration they should, or can, bear. At the French Open when Maria Sharapova won the title to complete her career Slam she made comment about why she continued playing after her shoulder surgery. But really the difference is that she has made it back and she is way younger than others. “I always believed I could be better, I could be a better player, whether it was on clay, whether it was on grass, whether it was on cement, anything, I always strive to be better,” said Sharapova. “No matter how tough it was, no matter how many people didn't believe in me, didn't think that I could get to this point, I didn't care and I didn't listen. I always listened to my own voice, and it always told me that for some reason I'm meant to be better. I'm meant to succeed again. And I did. “I had so many outs in my career. I could have said, ‘I don't need this. I have money; I have fame; I have victories; I have Grand Slams’. But when your love for something is bigger than all those things, you continue to keep getting up in the morning when it's freezing outside, when you know that it can be the most difficult day, when nothing is working, when you feel like the belief sometimes isn't there from the outside world, and you seem so small. But you can achieve great things when you don't listen to all those things.” You wonder if that is the reasoning that keeps Roddick and Hewitt in the game or is it they’re not fully sure what they want to do after tennis. Ivan Ljubicic retired earlier in the year and after taking some time to unwind, he says he is busier than ever and would certainly consider tennis politics. Both Hewitt and Roddick have been dabbling in the media with is ironic as both had a love hate relationship with the media, Hewitt more hate. For them that is an easy path. With all the time Hewitt has been away with injuries and surgeries its hard to believe that he feels he still has the view that he can do damage on a court. Surely their pride takes a battering when losses are happening in back-to-back weeks in the first round. Why do it? Why take the abuse? Why subject yourself to the negativity when positivity was what drove you to the top? Roddick was quoted in a British tabloid newspaper as suggesting he was considering retirement. He refuted that in a press conference at The Queen’s Club. “I'm not at the point where I'm going to deal in absolutes with my career,” said Roddick. I'm not going to sit here and say, I'm going to play three more years so take that as what you want. “At this point anything is a possibility. It's something I said (but) I don't think what was said and the way it has been interpreted is completely on the same page. I don't have certainty two, three years down the road. I'm not going to talk about that. I don't think I'm going to set the precedent on giving up dates on a day to day basis, either. Roddick says he doesn’t worry about “after tennis”. “I have a lot of different interests, so I don't fear kind of the life aspect of tennis. I enjoy playing tennis. I enjoy the work still. I enjoy being up at the track early and hitting with the guys and, you know, putting in the hours. I don't know that I enjoy the scene of tennis as much, and I think that's backwards from a lot of people. So I have thought about it, and I don't really worry about it.” Well they know best and quit when they think the time is right but you got to wonder how much longer it will stretch before you hear enough is enough.