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Why I'll Miss Elena Dementieva 10/29/2010 - 12:30 PM

Dem 2008

by Bobby Chintapalli, Contributing Writer 

I didn’t root for Elena Dementieva because she’s perfect. If anything I rooted for her because she’s not—just like the rest of us—but tried anyway.

I rarely root for or against anyone, hoping simply for good tennis. But I have my soft spots, and Elena Dementieva is one of them. (For the record, Venus Williams is another.) This doesn’t mean I agree with everything she's said or done. And I appreciate several qualities of hers in other players, too. I’ve written about those players, or will eventually. This piece though is about Elena Dementieva…and maybe a little about me.

********

I rooted for her because she loves tennis…and showed up to play it.

Not everyone who plays professional tennis likes professional tennis. (Just ask Andre Agassi.) Dementieva seemed to love it. She watches (for fun!) and has in the past mentioned doing something tennis-related after she retires. As a fan who loves tennis, it’s fun to watch a tennis player who shares a similar affection.

Dementieva has achieved at least the 80 percent of success that is, it’s said, just showing up. She played her first tour main draw match 13 years ago. By this year’s French Open she had the longest consecutive Grand Slam appearance streak of any active player—46 straight Slams. Think about that: She was healthy enough—and good enough—to play in Grand Slam main draws for more than 11 straight years.

Her ability to keep playing at that level likely had something to do with her desire to keep improving her level. After losing to Sam Stosur at the French Open last year, she complimented Stosur’s “impressive” play and said that to compete, she herself needed to work on her “physical condition, to get in a better shape.” Because, you know, fitness has always been such a challenge for Dementieva. Yes, sometimes it was too much. Heck, the woman tried to improve during matches—isn’t that what all those air forehands and serves were about?

I rooted for her because, oh yeah, she’s good at tennis.

She plays offense well, aided by some of the fiercest groundstrokes in the business. She plays defense well, aided by some of the best movement around. (Sania Mirza said Dementieva's movement is one of the tennis skills she admires most.) And her return of return of serve (yes, I made that up) can be a thing of beauty. Don’t take my word for it; watch last year’s Wimbledon semifinal against Serena Williams.

Of course, there’s that serve, her greatest weakness. I suspect it’s another reason I rooted for her. She had a glaring problem with a huge part of her game—like so many of us recreational players do—yet she still managed to play with the big girls. Sometimes I wonder if she succeeded not despite her serve, but because of it. Like a blind man whose other senses get sharper as a result of the blindness, perhaps the rest of her game improved to compensate for that downright wacky serve.

She first entered the Top 10 nearly a decade ago and has consistently been in the Top 20 for the past seven years. She reached a career-high singles ranking of No. 3 last year and her career-high doubles ranking of No. 5 a few years before that. Her resume includes Olympic gold and silver medals, a Fed Cup title for Russia, four Grand Slam finals (two in singles, two in doubles) and 16 tournament titles.

Only five active players have won more titles, and they’ve all won majors. It’s often suggested that she’s the best player never to have won one. Several key stats suggest that’s true, among active players at least.

What those stats also suggest is that she’s one of the game's best players—with or without a major. Having a higher career win percentage than a Grand Slam winner isn’t the same as having a Grand Slam title. But is the stat worth remembering? I think so.

I rooted for her because she’s classy.

She was asked about the lack of a Grand Slam title and that serve...again and again and again. Yet she rarely seemed bothered by it. Until maybe Beijing a few weeks ago. Personally, I wouldn’t have waited that long.

But she managed sometimes to bring humor to the situation, as she did after her loss to Stosur at last year’s French Open. Asked whether the loss was “one of your bigger disappointments here in Paris,” she thought for a second and replied, laughing, “I had so many.”

She can be sassy/classy too, as she was when she defended Dinara Safina and what she endured as the No. 1 player.

Marion Bartoli, no stranger to honesty, said Elena Dementieva is her favorite player. Bartoli’s not alone. Dementieva has won both the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award and the Tour Fan Favorite Singles Player of the Year. I haven’t interacted with her much in press conferences, but one time when I did, I sat across from a video blogger so taken with her that he turned red and prayed she wouldn’t notice. (No, I didn’t make this up. He told me so himself.)

I rooted for Dementieva because she’s noisy when she loses a point—I’ve never watched a match she played without wishing I spoke Russian—but rather quiet when she wins one. When her opponent hits a good shot she can show her appreciation, as she did yesterday in Doha, when Stosur hit one in the third-set tiebreaker.

I especially rooted for her because, during the handshake, she smiles little when she wins and, like Venus Williams or Maria Sharapova, smiles big when she loses.

********

Soon after hearing about Dementieva’s retirement, I discussed the dire situation with a friend (who happens to be a diehard Serena Williams fan). She humored me as I got louder and louder, faster and faster and then interjected with a question.

“Are we still talking about tennis?”

Now that I think about it, maybe we’re not.

After a while you don’t necessarily watch your favorites play tennis because of the tennis they play. Heck, sometimes you watch despite it. (Dinara Safina fans, you know what I mean.) Chances are, your interest started with some match, forehand or tactic then grew into something bigger, less tangible, more inexplicable. There’s a reason ‘fan’ is short for ‘fanatic’—the word once meant ‘insane person’.

I certainly felt like one during last year’s Wimbledon semifinal after watching Dementieva hit that backhand crosscourt when a down-the-line shot would have gotten her to the final. It was a tough loss for her, but from what I’ve heard and read, she was gracious in her post-match press conference only a half hour later. I can’t forget the missed opportunity against a champion who doles out so few of them, but I also try to remember the fabulous tennis and her attitude afterwards.

Now, as Elena Dementieva clears out her cubicle or does whatever it is retiring tennis players do, I hope it’s true what she told Amelie Mauresmo when Mauresmo retired, and I hope she remembers those words—that life doesn’t end when tennis ends and she’ll succeed at whatever comes next, because talented people are talented in everything.


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Posted by PapaQ 10/29/2010 at 12:34 PM

She will definately be missed.

Posted by CL 10/29/2010 at 12:37 PM

Really nice article, really nice writing.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 10/29/2010 at 12:40 PM

As Lowell Fulson wrote and Clapton (Fulson, and many others) have performed, Elena should:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qn9vyC_zLlE&feature=related

Elena has long been one of my favorites. I'm glad she got Olympic gold and I was long hoping she would get at least one major.

Posted by Andrew 10/29/2010 at 12:43 PM

Did you pull this together in an hour? Hail, that's impressive - personal, but honoring the player as well. Kudos.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (dem a go tired fi see mi face - Bob Marley) 10/29/2010 at 12:43 PM

Oh bobby, well said.

I am sure that the Serena Williams fan had lots to say during your whole discussion with her about Elena. LOL

Posted by tennyrunners 10/29/2010 at 12:45 PM

This is very sad because she was very very fun to watch play. Will miss watching Elena D!

Posted by @GVTennisNews 10/29/2010 at 12:45 PM

Brava Bobby!

Posted by sokol 10/29/2010 at 12:46 PM

Thank you, Bobby, for a nice article.
Elena will be missed, but I wish her all the best in her new life. Thank you, Lenochka, for all the years you played on Tour!
Спасибо, Леночка! Счастья тебе в будущем!

It was just "out of nowhere", so I'm in shock

One less top player for Russia :-((

Posted by Paul Ryan 10/29/2010 at 12:47 PM

Was this something people expected? I mean I know she's 29, but were there grumblings this season? I was frankly blind-sided, but you know what she needs to do what she needs to do. Will definitely miss her.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeee!/We gonna see, no?) 10/29/2010 at 12:48 PM

Bobby - Great read, as always.

Karen - ;)

Posted by NP 10/29/2010 at 12:48 PM

Temporary retirement is no longer an oxymoron, least of all in the WTA.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 10/29/2010 at 12:48 PM

Thank you, Bobby, for honoring Elena in such a nice, thoughtful way. She will be greatly missed by me and many other fans. Thanks, Elena, for all the many, many good times both on and off the tennis court.

Posted by MsChoy 10/29/2010 at 12:48 PM

Very well written. I will always remember that x-crt backhand she hit vs Serena @ Wimbledon. Her "return off the return of her own serve" was the best in the game.

Posted by Arun 10/29/2010 at 12:50 PM

"Did you pull this together in an hour? Hail, that's impressive - personal, but honoring the player as well. Kudos."
+1

Great read, Bobby.

Posted by Ryan 10/29/2010 at 12:51 PM

Sipping one tonight for Elena, one of the classiest ladies on the tour.

Posted by Kris 10/29/2010 at 12:52 PM

Very nice piece on her.

This year especially, I loved watching her fight. The best match I saw all year on the ladies' tour was her US Open match against Stosur that went into 1:30 in the morning.

The hardest match to watch was the end of her French Open match against Schiavone. We now know that was her last chance at that major but raise your hand if you weren't a little teary just like she was at the end of that match.

It seems weirdly poetic that her last win was against Stosur and her last match was against Schiavone.

Posted by Papo 10/29/2010 at 12:53 PM

I just heard about this. I was blind-sided also and I'm totally shocked :'(

Posted by linz 10/29/2010 at 12:53 PM

Oh Bobby. I want to fly to Chicago and hug you. (I won't. That would be creepy. And I can't afford a flight). What a great piece (as always), really sums up what Elena has meant to me and to tennis.

(But Bobby, if we lose Venus soon, I'm showing up on your doorstep with a suitcase full of wine. You've been warned.)

Posted by Papo 10/29/2010 at 12:54 PM

I hope it's a temporary retirement. She has so much great tennis left in her.

Posted by Lance 10/29/2010 at 12:56 PM

Well done article!!! Venus is my favorite ever... But I will miss her... One of the Dewitt didn't want to see go...

Posted by Sherlock 10/29/2010 at 12:56 PM

Does anyone else absolutely hate it when their favorites retire? Very painful. It's like a part of us is gone forever. :(

Being a fervent hater of a big-serve game, I loved Elena. With those groundstrokes, she would have been amazing if she did actually have a weapon in that area. But then, as Bobby alluded to, she wouldn't have been Elena.

Beautiful article, Bobby.

Posted by Matt Zemek 10/29/2010 at 12:57 PM

Bobby -

What Andrew said. Damn, that's fast.

Chintapalli d. Deadline, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0, thanks to the best return of return of storyline around! :-)

Dementieva was (geez, a past-tense reference is actually merited in a tennis-only sense; that sucks) one of those athletes who over-thought the moment and allowed her studied personal (holistic) intelligence to actually get in the way of her game. I love athletes who are intelligent and thoughtful, and that's why I rooted for Elena. She and the Kooze are both wise beyond the court, but paradoxically so prone to meltdowns on it. I wanted both of them to succeed, and I join legions of tennis fans in saying that I really, really wanted Demmy to win one major. I love Sam Stosur, but wanted Elena to win that US Open match because the time clock was ticking on her career.

Who knew the clock was ticking this loudly, though?

One final note: It's richly ironic that she lost to Schiavone today and hence played her last match against Franny; it was the retirement (from a match, not the sport) against Schiavone in the French semis which effectively ended Demmy's last great chance to win that one major. Tweets are now flying around about how this decision was pondered in the summer and made more concrete after the US Open (the last major she contested). A fascinating symmetry there, with a sad coda and undertone.

:-(


:-(


Gonna miss ya, Elena Viatcheslavovna Dementieva. Wish you could have won the Big One, but then again, in the bigger picture of life, oh what a nice problem to have for a person with a fat bank account, good looks, and -- far more importantly than those other superficial but still desirable details -- a winning combination of intelligence and class.

Here's to a rich post-retirement life and many fulfilling experiences. Elena, you are in position to put your intellect and your heart to very good use, and I'm sure you'll find ways to do just that.

Posted by sokol 10/29/2010 at 12:58 PM

"By this year’s French Open she had the longest consecutive Grand Slam appearance streak of any active player—46 straight Slams. Think about that: She was healthy enough—and good enough—to play in Grand Slam main draws for more than 11 straight years."

"She first entered the Top 10 nearly a decade ago and has consistently been in the Top 20 for the past seven years."

impressive...

"After a while you don’t necessarily watch your favorites play tennis because of the tennis they play. Heck, sometimes you watch despite it. (Dinara Safina fans, you know what I mean.)"

lol, Bobby

Posted by freddy 10/29/2010 at 12:59 PM

Will defy miss her. Classy lady. Always enjoyed watching her play. When you think of all the 1-Slam wonders (Majoli, Myskina come to mind), Elena definitely had so much more game. Oh well, all good things have to come to an end.

Posted by freddy 10/29/2010 at 01:00 PM

Also, really good article Bobby. Kudos!

Posted by Bobby C. 10/29/2010 at 01:01 PM

Guys, thanks for the comments. While I'd love for you to think I'm fast enough to have written this in an hour, let me assure you that I'm not. I heard about this a few days ago. I didn't want to believe it, but I wrote the piece anyway figuring it would be good therapy. And it was, to some extent.

Posted by Moderator 10/29/2010 at 01:01 PM

sokol: gentle observation that non-English use at TW (apart from quick phrases like Vamos! or Davai!) should be translated. If the Moderator's limited knowledge of Russian is right, Спасибо, Леночка! Счастья тебе в будущем! translates as "Thanks, Lena! Best wishes to you in the future!"

Posted by Brad Gilbert 10/29/2010 at 01:03 PM

Completely agree.

Posted by sokol 10/29/2010 at 01:04 PM

sorry, Moderator, I thought that the fact that I wrote the same thing in English before the Russian will serve as a translation. I'll do the translation next time if I'll write in Russian. Sorry about that!

Posted by sokol 10/29/2010 at 01:06 PM

"If the Moderator's limited knowledge of Russian is right, Спасибо, Леночка! Счастья тебе в будущем! translates as "Thanks, Lena! Best wishes to you in the future!"

absolutely right :-), thanks.

Posted by Lump Of Kohlschreiber (Ezekiel O'd so I had to split the band) 10/29/2010 at 01:07 PM

I'll miss her mom most of all.

Posted by Ollie 10/29/2010 at 01:07 PM

This is really out of nowhere, just like some of her winners.

Posted by Thomas Christiansen 10/29/2010 at 01:08 PM

GREAT article, Bobby!

Thanks for everything Lena D!

Posted by Claire 10/29/2010 at 01:12 PM

Everything that has already been said..

+1

(Now I'm curious as to which other players there are pre-written 'obituaries' about)

Posted by Fern 10/29/2010 at 01:13 PM

I come on to the site today and learn Elena's retired?! So sudden ... I'm really sad about this- would have loved her to get a major. Still, she's been a classy competitor for a long time. Good luck for the future, Elena.

Posted by Texastennis 10/29/2010 at 01:15 PM

Nice gallery up at the WTA site:

http://www.wtatour.com/gallery/20101029/elenas-best-moments_2256674_2201189?imageNo=1#picture

I've enjoyed watching her very much and I think the tour can ill afford to lose her, but she seems ready to move on and I think she'll have a very happy post tour life - which not all retiring players seem well equipped for or able to achieve.

Posted by Sherlock 10/29/2010 at 01:23 PM

Thanks, Texastennis. That Fed Cup picture is fantastic! They are all so young!! :)

Posted by Pete 10/29/2010 at 01:25 PM

Great job, Bobby! I'm just back from the Great Plains and I wrote the lead for the home page on Elena, but your anticipation here was terrific and I'm hugely pleased that we're right on top of this one. Just wanted our readers to know.

Posted by pogiako 10/29/2010 at 01:27 PM

I hope Elena plays another year. It would have been 50 straight grand slams. Who knows, she might bag at least one. Nevertheless, good luck to her.

Posted by Sherlock 10/29/2010 at 01:29 PM

Freakin' Myskina. Why couldn't she have gagged that final to Elena?

Hmmm...makes me think of the poster with a nick that was some combo of Myskina, trains, and Tolstoy, or something like that? :)

Posted by zenggi 10/29/2010 at 01:34 PM

From the heart, Bobby. Excellent piece on Elena's farewell.

Lena!!! All the best to you in the future and thank you for all your tennis years.

Posted by Jimbo 10/29/2010 at 01:37 PM

nice piece, bobby....
she is a class act.

Posted by FedererFTW 10/29/2010 at 01:47 PM

I glanced over the results and the headlines read, "Dementieva retires." I thought, ok, she retired from her match with Schiavone. Not really a shocker, because she has been carying an injury. Then, I read the article, and she is retiring from tennis altogether! Shocker. Real shocker, considering she was one of those players that put in the hard yards and was there or thereabouts for a good part of a decade! I am sad. I feel like she totally deserves a couple of slams. The combination of her serve and lack of self belief in tough matches were her ultimate undoing. Kind of like Nalbandian in the mens game. People respect her and her gracious attitude. I wish her good luck in whatever she does after tennis!

Posted by Carrie 10/29/2010 at 01:48 PM

Wonderful piece Bobby.

Just last night my husband and I were flipping between the replay of hers and Sam’s match and the drubbing of the Rangers (sigh) at the World Series and I remarked how I really hope that one day she can get a grand slam.

But this column helped illuminate that her career should be appreciate for what she did achieve rather than what she did not.

Her retirement comes as a big surprise to me and I am sure many others and I must admit that it has made me cry a bit. I wish her the best in her future and hope to see her still connected with tennis in some capacity.

Posted by pount 10/29/2010 at 01:52 PM

She was a great player. Bye Elena!

Posted by izidane 10/29/2010 at 01:52 PM

Very well said/written Bobby.
We'll miss Elena as I'm sure she'll miss professional tennis.

Posted by tennisesq. 10/29/2010 at 01:52 PM

Bravo Bobby!!!

I'm so emo right now, I'm speechless. I need to process this news.

Oh Demmy. I wish I knew you were planning to retire ahead of time, so I could have appreciated you more. Thanks for all the wonderful tennis you graced us with.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President.Yes Indeed I am A One Woman Show 10/29/2010 at 01:54 PM

Bobby Just a wonderful piece on Elena

I was in tears and still cant believe it.To me she was a true sports woman on the tour a graceful champion.I wish her well in her retirement.

She can be proud of her achievements.She won the Gold Medal at the Olympic games.She never won a GS title.Though at the end of the day that dosent really matter.She gave it her all everytime she took to the court.

Good luck Elena you will be missed by everyone.

Posted by Sunny 10/29/2010 at 01:59 PM

Great article, cant believe that i was so hooked to it, that i didnt realize there were tears in my eyes...
"life doesn’t end when tennis ends and she’ll succeed at whatever comes next, because talented people are talented in everything." best line by elena

Posted by CWATC 10/29/2010 at 02:00 PM

Very nice piece.

I too was a fan of Elena and am shocked just having found out the news. I don't watch too much WTA nowadays but she was one of the few I always root for and one of the few who can hold her ground and mix it up w/ Serena like at Wimby that year.

A real loss to the tour.

Posted by SimonSays 10/29/2010 at 02:01 PM

damn u giuys were quick with the report goodjob. she will be missed

Posted by Gwen Barde 10/29/2010 at 02:02 PM

I cried reading this article.

Posted by Colette 10/29/2010 at 02:03 PM

Bobby, thanks for this wonderful, from-the-heart tribute. And the comments here say it all.

Posted by CherryNYC 10/29/2010 at 02:05 PM

So I've been out of the loop for a while, I log on for the first time in forever, and this is what greets me? Demmy's retiring?????? (***sniff***). I adore her -- possibly the best groundies I have ever seen... and a normal, well-adjusted adult to boot.... All the best to her -- I am sure she will relish her post-tennis life and be happy and successful.
I'm depressed now.

Posted by JB (FOOPs unite!!!) 10/29/2010 at 02:11 PM

Nicely done Bobby. I'm still shocked by the news, I got down right teary - eyed hearing about it second hand. She's such a great playing, always entertaining to watch and I just really liked her.

sigh.

Posted by tennis-94 10/29/2010 at 02:12 PM

I was hoping she could win a slam title soon

Posted by KV 10/29/2010 at 02:12 PM

Elena, the classiest WTA player today.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 10/29/2010 at 02:12 PM

I've just glanced over all these comments and I can see one thing that I'm certain of, which makes me happy. Elena was loved and she deserved to be.

Posted by karin1492 10/29/2010 at 02:13 PM

It's so sad that Elena Dementieva's retiring. I wonder how much having to retire from the French Open earlier this year really cost her, emotionally and psychologically. Either way, she's going to be missed on the tour. She's easily the most grounded player on the tour, which is a quality that isn't appreciated enough.

Posted by CherryNYC 10/29/2010 at 02:14 PM

"She's easily the most grounded player on the tour, which is a quality that isn't appreciated enough."

Yes, absolutely, karin1492.

Posted by JB (FOOPs unite!!!) 10/29/2010 at 02:17 PM

"Freakin' Myskina. Why couldn't she have gagged that final to Elena?"

:)))))))

elena's career does illustrate that a slam doesn't necessarily mean you're a better player, or had a better career than someone who's slam-less. it just means you had a great 2 weeks, and sometimes just 1 great day...

Posted by temes 10/29/2010 at 02:18 PM

I loved Elena D! Literally 75% of the time I opened Eurosport on tv to watch some tennis, Miss Elena was on. While first I found it annoying, soon it became the norm for me. I will really miss that. lol

Posted by Codge 10/29/2010 at 02:19 PM

Bobby, I feel your pain. Thank you for this thoughtful piece on Demmy.

I'm one of those frustrated Demmy fans who frequently and glibly suggests that she "retire", and "put me out my misery". BUT I DON'T ACTUALLY MEAN IT!!!!!!!!!!

I think we've had clues that the final match was approaching, but I still wasn't prepared for the moment. It's actually happened!

She's had a wonderful career and has every right to be proud. The fact that most (if not all) of her colleagues hold her in such high regard is a testament to her character on and off court.

We've had a few retirements in tennis, which really were mental health breaks. I suspect this is not the case for Demmy. I wish her well. She'll be missed.

Definitely the WTA's BPNTWAS!

Posted by tennis mama 10/29/2010 at 02:23 PM

What a heartfelt piece! Thank you for expressing what I feel about Elena. I will miss watching her. Again, this is a fine piece of writing!

Posted by weak4.0player 10/29/2010 at 02:23 PM

Tough day for the WTA, to lose perhaps its most professional player. Really, they should ask her to give seminars on professionalism and commitment to tour newbies. A true pro, and, most of all, a really classy lady. Good Luck!

Posted by forehandho 10/29/2010 at 02:25 PM

First, great column, Bobby. I'm glad someone who obviously was a fan of Dementieva's was one of the first to write about her retirement.

Second, this news completely caught me by surprise -- and saddened me :( Like most people, I would hardly say Dementieva was my favorite player at any point in time, but after a certain point (probably a few months after her serving woes began for the first time) I pretty much rooted for her no matter who she played against.

Although I started by rooting for her simply because I felt bad for her, I eventually rooted for her because she had some of the best groundies I had ever seen on the women's side. Also, as you noted Bobby, she was such a competitor -- always giving her all until the last point.

I'm sad she's hanging up her racket, and I'm sad she never won a GS, but I'm happy that she seems OK with both of those things.

Posted by grace 10/29/2010 at 02:25 PM

I think she was one of the best tennis players out there and went the extra mile to improve her game especially her serve. As far as being one of the nices tennis players out there, I remember that she was always starting controvery (with a sneaky smile on her face) about the Williams sisters fixing matches.

Posted by PB9 10/29/2010 at 02:33 PM

I could never put my finger on why I liked Elena D so much, but this article says it perfectly. Sad to see her go.

Posted by adicecream 10/29/2010 at 02:38 PM

I sat stunned as Elena made her announcement this morning. I too will miss her and thought she still had the major in her.

Also notable: With one exception, all the comments here have been so positive.

And a fine article, bobby.

Posted by Bobby C. 10/29/2010 at 02:42 PM

Gwen Barde, I just might have cried writing this article.

Posted by Ruth 10/29/2010 at 02:44 PM

Congrats on the lovely piece on Dementieva, Bobby. But that's as far as I'll go because I'm going to follow my mother's (and everybody's mother's) advice and say nothing if I have nothing nice to say about or add to this farewell. ;-)

Well, I'll say one thing...I'm probably one of the few fans who think that neither her career nor her reputation has been or will be indelibly tarnished by the absence of a Slam win. There is, as you all know I believe, so much more to tennis (or any sport) than winning one or more of the "big ones."

Posted by Nick 10/29/2010 at 02:45 PM

Elena's Last Interview:
http://www.dementieva.ru/en/node/779

Posted by adicecream 10/29/2010 at 02:54 PM

Ruth, you are a classy act too!

Posted by humanzee 10/29/2010 at 03:04 PM

I agree, she is the classiest player out there. Wonderful.

Posted by forehandho 10/29/2010 at 03:14 PM

I don't know if its OK to post links here, but this news prompted me to start posting on my new tennis-focused blog (I wasn't going to start posting until the Australian Open). Please check it out if you want to read my thoughts on Dementieva's retirement -- http://forehandho.wordpress.com/

Posted by noleisthebest 10/29/2010 at 03:14 PM

I must say I never liked Dementieva's tennis as it was in my opinion flareless and soulless, I also didn't like her squeaky grunts, so only watched her when I had to.
But, despite that I liked her the way she carried herself, it never ceases to amaze me how in tennis, such a classy game there are so few classy women.
Elena was definitely one of them. Classy with capital C.

Posted by Bobby C. 10/29/2010 at 03:20 PM

Ruth, sometimes I wonder if disagreeing agreeably is going out of style. Thanks for showing again that it's not. You rock.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (dem a go tired fi see mi face - Bob Marley) 10/29/2010 at 03:21 PM

Ruth, you have mail

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 10/29/2010 at 03:22 PM

My mom told me that too, Ruth (and I've tried to followed it).

Speaking about moms, one thing that pleases me about Lena's announcement is that perhaps Lena's mom will now have a pleasant retirement. I don't think I've ever seen a family member who seemed to suffer more when watching a player than Vera. Best wishes to mom and daughter.

Posted by Lynnson 10/29/2010 at 03:24 PM

Good job, Bobby! Quality writing and worthy tribute to Elena. Thanks!

Posted by Kongi 10/29/2010 at 03:26 PM

She hinted about this around two years ago, yet this news is a complete surprise. I feel quite sad, as if my friend is moving to another farflung place before the age of the internet. I remember marvelling reading/watching a docu about her and the woman whose tennis school shaped her formative years in Moscow. She is a great athlete, but lost so many heartbreaking matches. And affected by injuries, there was a time she broke several ribs during a workout with a new fitness coach. And isn't she so pretty? It's loss.

Posted by Jankofan 10/29/2010 at 03:27 PM

GL Elena

Posted by Master Ace 10/29/2010 at 03:35 PM

Bobby,
Well written piece on Elena Dementieva! I am glad that I got her autograph when she and her Russian team came to my hometown to play Fed Cup against the USA. Although she did not get a Slam or a Year End Championship, she did win an Olympic Gold and Olympic Silver medal and when she got older, she started to win more titles. I may post some more thoughts on her later once I get over the complete surprise that she retired. Hope Elena post-tennis life will be very good.

Posted by Arvis 10/29/2010 at 03:38 PM

A couple French Opens ago, Dementieva was playing against Jelena Dokic in one of the early rounds. Dokic was playing well, but (as usual on clay) Dementieva's mobility made every point Dokic got hard-earned.

Unfortunately, during the match Dokic tweaked something in her back and she suddenly seized up and could barely move her upper body. Dokic tried going to a trainer, stretching, waiting, but it didn't improve and she was forced to retire from what had been a very competetive match. Dokic burst into big, heaving sobs.

Elena Dementieva, being who she is, put her equipment down, brought a fresh towel over to Jelena and sweetly rubbed her back, speaking consoling words, apologizing for her unfortunate circumstance.

Ever since that moment I have been a Dementieva fan.
I really wanted her to get a Slam.
There aren't too many women worth following on the WTA tour.
I am really, really sad that one of the best is now gone.

-Arvis

Posted by Treve 10/29/2010 at 03:39 PM

she was one of my favorite and teers came to my eyes when i heard this. i wish she had won a slam came so close so many times.

Posted by Stewart 10/29/2010 at 03:43 PM

Elena is one of those players who, though she might not have a GS title, is such a fixture at the top level of the tour that her retirement sends shockwaves through its very foundations. 9 times a GS semifinalist or better. 10/11 years makign the WTA year end champs. Two Olympic medals. Victories over every single one of the top players in the last 10 years.

But more importantly, a work ethic surpassing perhaps anyone else in the sports, a gracious champion and an even more classy runner-up, and a beautiful, intelligent, well liked woman who will succeed in life.

Thanks Elena for your competitive spirit. You will be dearly missed the world over by tennis fans. *tears*

Posted by Luke 10/29/2010 at 03:50 PM

Elena Dementieva had it all - beauty, brains, charm and, of course, great tennis ability. Hell, there was even a song made about her and Maria Sharapova called "Dementapova" by the band Blue Dog And Sponge Cake. Dementieva will definitely be missed.

Posted by Lucius the Luscious 10/29/2010 at 03:55 PM

Wow, really....wow. I'm a bit more emotional about this than I could have ever imagined.

I bet not winning a GS is greatly tempered by the Olympic golds. For someone who seemed so fiercely patriotic, I bet that means nearly as much to her as any GS would have.

LL

Posted by TennisFan 10/29/2010 at 03:58 PM

Wow, a big surprise to me. I always thought I'd be able to watch Elena battle her serve, while the rest of us battle our own demons.

I hope to read an inspiring "look what happened to her" story sometime in the future.

Posted by Latif 10/29/2010 at 04:00 PM

I am big fan of hers. There's is something so girly about her shrieks when she misses a shot. I wish her the best in retirement.

Posted by Sakura K. 10/29/2010 at 04:10 PM

Elena Dementieva was one of the first professional I ever saw play tennis (defeated Lindsay Davenport Amelia Island final) and it was because of her that I picked up a racket and started playing this wonderful game. It truly saddens me that she is retiring...I really wanted her to win one of the slams....Although I am saddened at the thought of not being able to watch her crack return aces, I wish her every happiness.

Posted by John 10/29/2010 at 04:21 PM

Wow, I didn't realize watching her 3 set win against Stouser would be my last chance to watch this great player. She is so beautiful both inside and out! She also is a great fighter and competitor. Elena, best blessings in the next phase of life! Congrats on an incredible run as one of the world's best tennis players for over a decade! Truely one of the greatest tennis players to walk on a court....ever. You will be truely missed (sigh)...................

Posted by Alexis 10/29/2010 at 04:29 PM

I don't really come here anymore, but after being shocked to find out that Dementieva is retiring, I wanted to come and pay my respects to a girl I have enjoyed watching. So sorry that she never won a slam because she deserved one. A class act and she will be sorely missed.

Take care Elena and good luck in the future.

Posted by Sergey, Moscow 10/29/2010 at 04:33 PM

Elena was always beautiful and in her farewell she was beautiful too. Elena I wish good luck to you in your new life! Sergey, Moscow.

Posted by mayetc 10/29/2010 at 04:34 PM

Thanks for this tribute, Mr. Bodo.

I have a soft spot for Elena too. I've rooted for her for years and years and each time she got close to playing a Grand Slam final again, I rooted for her even more and sent her positive vibes during her matches. It was heartbreaking to see her come so close a number of times to a Grand Slam crown yet falter in the end. But she's always been gracious about her close losses, her deemed failures and she brightens up her matches with her smile.

I'll miss watching you play, your awesome groundstrokes and hearing your unique grunt. I wish you nothing but the best in this new chapter in your life, Elena. For sure, the best is yet to come for you. Cheers! =)

Posted by GS 10/29/2010 at 04:36 PM

Great player, beautiful woman inside and out, and a class act! So sad to see her go. Elena, I wish you every happiness in the next chapter of your life.

Posted by wilson75 10/29/2010 at 04:51 PM

I wouldn't say she was my favourite player but I did enjoy watching her matches. She said on Eurosport today that she had decided since the beginning of the season that this season would be her last year on the tour; that she if she was a man she would play longer but it's not possible (I assume she's preparing to start a family) and that she had started studying Journalism at a university in Moscow, so she would like to finish that. She still sees winning the Olympic Gold Medal as her greatest achievement and she has no regrets of how her career turned out.

Posted by Jacko 10/29/2010 at 04:52 PM

Just making a quick appearance due to this. Amazing Piece Bobby.
Elena Dementieva has always been a player I've loved since I first started watching tennis and I'm devastated her career has ended.
There isn't enough praise or commentary I could give to do her justice so I'll just say that the game has lost one of its truest and brightest stars. That is all.

Posted by AB 10/29/2010 at 05:07 PM

Bobby, you've honored one of the WTA's consummate professionals with a thoughtful piece. I enjoyed reading it.

I'm imagining the rest of the pros will be saddened to have to face their own tennis mortality, and relieved that they won't have to look across the net at one of the most dogged and talented competitors on the tour.

Good luck, Elena, in all your future endeavors.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 10/29/2010 at 05:26 PM

In my own language, Tak Demmy. Good luck.

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