"..I was one of the luckiest kids to stumble upon the road of a tennis player thanks to my wonderful parents and i will be forever grateful..." Unfortunately for Dominika Cibulkova she didn't get complete support on starting a tennis career being only 5'3", many weren't convinced that because she was small if she'd ever make it big in the world of professional tennis.
She had mentioned on her Instagram to fans and the tennis community giving a farewell talk on her retirement after 15 years on tour. Everything is a process and for Cibulkova, retiring from tennis wasn't a sudden decision but a gradual one.
The last time she stepped onto a tennis court competitively was at the French Open in May, where she'd lose to Aryna Sabalenka in the opening round. There could have been the start of her taking notes of the fierce opponents she would have to face in the future.
She would go on to face the Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu at Indian Wells losing in the first round. Cibulkova had felt her age playing the teen and going up against her stinging shots and junk dropping tactics. These strategies also served as justifications for the Slovakian to think serious about retirement.
But it was in 2014 she lost to China's Li Na at the Australian Open when her talents again were tested. She'd make history though as the first Slovak woman to ever make a grand slam final and she felt accomplished on what she could attain for herself and her Slovakian people.
Cibulkova's lost to Sabalenka might have been another wake up call and she was determined on leaving tennis after that. "It was strange because I knew, and no one around me except my team knew it would be my last tournament...At that point, I was 100 percent sure...I knew I wanted to do it like this...I went home and was happy with my decision," She can't deny that her most well celebrated title came in 2016 when she defeated Angelique Kerber who was then No.
1. She'd won the WTA Finals season ender and had other aspirations back then. But along the way Cibulkova has captured 8 WTA titles and 2 ITF singles. It would seem very significant for the Slovakian to finish up her career at the French Open being that she started her main draw debut there in 2007 making it to the third round.
It was also in 2009 at the French that she made it into the semifinal in her tennis career, and with her best ranking a few year's ago in 2017 of May, achieved her highest ranking at No. 4. There were certainly other indicators to get Cibulkova to admit to herself what would be her last tournament.
After playing Victoria Azarenka at the Miami Open, this kind of confirmed her believe in retirement here and now. Dominika Cibulkova has had her share of injuries too, as she struggled in 2015 with a left achilles tendon injury requiring surgery.
She would miss the entire North American hard court season and all of the clay court tournaments. She was getting to the breaking point after her resurgence from surgery and decided to get involved in another activity outside of the tennis world.
She felt glad to have reached such high spots in her life and decided to invest in a Bratislava-based tennis academy, Love4Tennis. Cibulkova also became active with a restaurant/nightclub 'The Velvet' She felt inspired and wrote a book, her memoir called 'Tennis is My Life.'
The fiery Slovakian gave it all she had in her 15-year-career, running across the court, adjusting her long ponytail when serving and her specialty, sniffing fresh tennis balls before she serves. She is relieved she made the right decision and says with gratification that "..I am lookng forward to step into the next part of my life and take on new challenges..."