Dinara Safina, former world’s number one, talked on BehindTheRacquet.com about the hard times she got through after she retired at only 25 years old. Now, eight years after her retirement, which was provoked by an on-going back injury, Safina regrets that she couldn’t spend more time under the spotlights of the great tournaments.
“I really enjoyed my time and I was happiest when I could wake up and just get on court. It is funny, once I quit I was really missing the adrenaline and energy that you experience from tennis. It has been very difficult to find anything that can take its place, something that truly motivates me.
I am proud of what I have achieved and am not blaming anyone for my injuries, just thankful that I was able to enjoy all those years” Even if she still feels the attraction to tennis, the Russian doesn’t plan to make a comeback, although Clijsters and Golovin recently did.
“I still do not see myself coming back on tour like Kim Clijsters or Tatiana Golovin, but I can definitely see myself coaching and sharing my experiences with another player”. However, the greatest challenge that Safina had to overcome after retirement was depression, a state that threw a dark shadow on her life.
“I recently finished my law degree, which was a goal of mine, but I keep finding my head wanting to get back into tennis. These 8-9 years since my career have not been the easiest. I think this happens quite often to players after they retire, they struggle with depression.
One of the main reasons is because you go from playing on tour, the center of attention, to just another person. When I was number one in the world, everyone was gathering around me, wanting to just get a piece of me. Now it seems like many don’t really care”.
And if giving up tennis at a premature age was not enough, her own compatriots turned their backs on her. In this conditions, there’s no wonder that Dinara experienced depression. “I have even tried multiple times to approach the president of our tennis federation to see if I could be a part of helping the next generation and they never contact me back.
It seems like they don’t want to help you anymore. You wonder why they wouldn’t want you after all you accomplished for the country (silver medal and one in the world) and it just leaves you confused and hurt. It feels like constant reminders that they don’t need you anymore and they just don’t care.
You realize you have to take care of yourself and the feeling of loneliness are not easy to deal with at all”. Fortunately for Safina, things started to work out for her after she decided to confront her negative thoughts.
“It has only gotten better this year when I accepted everything I didn’t want to be true. I have worked to bring my happiness back and now I go up to players and agents directly telling them I am interested in being a coach.
No matter what you do or accomplish, you have to be there for yourself, not relying on anyone, and that was a tough lesson to learn”. , concluded Safina.