“I feel so happy,” says Strycova after playing last match in Czechia
37-year-old Barbora Strycova played her last professional tennis match in native Czechia in this year’s Livesport Prague Open. Despite ending with a 6-3 3-6 4-6 loss to Ankita Raina, she felt happy, emotional and had to wipe away a few tears while saying her final goodbyes to the faithful crowd in Prague. She will end her professional career following next month’s US Open where she will be starting in doubles alongside Marketa Vondrousova.
“The first emotions were a bit mixed because I lost the match, but once I saw my son and family, everything changed,” started Strycova, “I have so many feelings right now – I am just so happy to have had such a career in tennis and to have been able to play here one last time, even though it’s tough to say that after this match.”
“I really enjoy playing at this tournament, the fans are always amazing, and the atmosphere today was great – I had a really nice time” she said during the post-match press conference.
The Czech tennis player was visibly moved when watching a farewell video highlighting some of the biggest moments of her career. “I cried a lot,” she said, “I really tried not to lose it completely but so many memories came flooding back. It was such a moment, while holding my son as well.”
Strycova wasn’t far off winning in yesterday’s match. After dropping the second set, the two-time Wimbledon doubles champion went into a 3-1 lead in the deciding set, but some late mistakes and a late rise in form for Raina robbed her of a round of 16 spot.
The Olympic bronze medallist will end her career at this year’s US Open. “I really want to enjoy the next few weeks and the US Open itself,” she said, adding that she doesn’t think any moments of sadness will come in that time.
A big question was who will Strycova join forces with ahead of her last Grand Slam. “It will be Marketa Vondrousova,” she revealed. That means she will not play with Su-wej Sie, who she won Wimbledon with just a few weeks ago.
Strycova and Vondrousova played together in the 2019 Australian Open and made it all the way to the semi-finals that year. “I’m really looking forward to playing with Markéta,” said Strycova, “she’s the 2023 Wimbledon singles champion, I’m this year’s doubles champion – it’s a nice ending to my story.”
Why retire now and what about life after tennis?
“I’m going to miss a lot, but I’m also not going to miss many things,” said Strycova, “people keep asking me: Why are you retiring? But I am so sure that this is the right thing to do– I’ll be 38 soon and life isn’t just about travelling for tennis. I want to spend time with my son and not have to keep running to and from training sessions,” concluded the two-time Grand Slam winner.
Photo: Livesport Prague Open / Pavel Lebeda (sport-pics.cz)