In a ceremony filled with tears, Elena Dementieva retired from tennis after a loss at the WTA Championships that ended her 13-year career. The 29-year-old Russian reached two Grand Slam finals, won a Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympics and helped spur the growth of tennis in her home country.
Dementieva struggled with injuries this year, but still won two tournaments. She announced her retirement following a 6-4, 6-2 defeat to French Open champion Francesca Schiavone. Dementieva was surrounded by her fellow players during the ceremony, with mother Vera courtside.
Dementieva is ranked number nine after reaching a career-high number three last year. This season, she overcame shoulder, calf and ankle problems to qualify for the WTA Championships a 10th time.
Dementieva considered her biggest achievement the Beijing title in which she beat Serena Williams, Zvonareva and Dinara Safina en route to the gold medal.
Dementieva was part of the first all-Russian Grand Slam final, losing the French title in 2004 to Anastasia Myskina. Later that year, she reached her only other Grand Slam final—another all-Russian affair, this time at the U.S. Open with Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Dementieva competed in 46 consecutive Grand Slams until she missed this year’s Wimbledon because of a calf injury. After turning pro in 1998, Dementieva won 16 titles, including Sydney in January with a win over Williams, and the Paris Indoors in February. She was in two more finals in Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo.
She played 18 series in the Fed Cup, leading Russia to the 2005 title with all three points in the final. She has been ranked in the top 20 since April 2003 and was a top-five doubles player. She finishes her 13-year career with a 576-273 record and a place in the year-end top 10 for the seventh time in eight years.