Germany's Andrea Petkovic was overcome with emotion after her tennis career effectively ended on Tuesday in a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 defeat against Swiss Olympic champion Belinda Bencic at the US Open.Former top 10 player and French Open semi-finalist Petkovic had announced last week that the New York grand slam would be her swansong, although she may appear once more at a smaller event in Europe to give friends and family a final chance to see her play.
"I was really devastated over the last five days," Petkovic said after the first-round defeat, admitting to "pure sadness."Petkovic said she initially wanted to announce her retirement a few weeks ago but that this plan ended when American icon Serena Williams said in Vogue magazine that the US Open would be her finale.
"I woke up the next morning, my mobile was flashing like crazy because the Serena piece in Vogue was published. So I though, OK, this won't interest anyone now," she said.Petkovic said she had huge respect for 23-time grand slam winner Williams who advanced into the second round on Monday amid a huge hype.
"I asked myself how Serena did it. I have so much empathy and sympathy for her right now," the 34-year-old German said.Petkovic said that she obviously did not give the sport "as much as Serena" but she was satisfied because "I feel I have brought everything to an end in my small world."
Looking at her last match in which she came from one set down to force a decider against Bencic, she said she had to remind herself, "What do the people know you for? What do you stand for? For fighting! Running after every ball! Never giving up!"I pulled myself together, and I want to be remembered in this way.
"What Petkovic, who has worked as a sports journalist and columnist during her career, will do next remains to be seen but she said she would like to continue as a mentor for young talent such as Jule Niemeier who ousted former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin on Tuesday."I believed in Jule Niemeier before she was on anyone's radar," Petkovic said.