Anett Kontaveit, the most successful Estonian tennis player ever, is forced into early retirement due to a medical condition; the former world number two will play her final professional tennis tournament in Wimbledon.
Kontaveit announced on 20 June that she’s ending her career as a competitive athlete.
“After several doctor’s visits and consultations with my medical team, I have been advised that I have lumbar disc degeneration (discopathia lumbalis) in my back. This does not allow for full-scale training or continued competition. Therefore, it is impossible to continue at the top level in such a highly competitive field,” she said in a statement.
“This is an extremely emotional decision for me because I love tennis. I love the game that has been the centre of my life over 20 years. Every professional player knows how difficult it is to reach the top in tennis and even more so to stay there. Every victory requires not only physical but also mental effort. I have worked determinedly and devotedly all these years to rise to the top of women’s professional tennis,” she noted.
Kontaveit added it had been important for her to bring the Estonian flag on the tennis courts and to offer excitement to her supporters and fans. “I hope I have provided inspiration that even when you come from a small country, it is possible to rise to the top of the tennis world. I believe life still has something to offer me. I am ready for new challenges.”
She will play her last professional tennis match at the world’s oldest tennis tournament in Wimbledon, which is part of the Grand Slam tournaments, and takes place from 3 to 16 July in London. “At the moment, I am working on my last effort – to enjoy the game and compete as hard as I can at Wimbledon,” Kontaveit said.
Played over 700 singles matches
Kontaveit started training when she was six years old and three years later won her first title. In 2009, she won the Estonian women’s championship – at 13, she was the youngest ever to win the adult championship in singles.
Her international breakthrough came in 2011 when she started to play in the ITF women’s tournaments. At her first grass tournament of 2017, the Ricoh Open, Kontaveit reached her second final of the year. In that final, she clinched her maiden WTA title and ensured a top 40 debut.
In October 2021, Kontaveit won the inaugural Transylvania Open in Romania, securing the final spot at the WTA Finals – the women’s championship tennis tournament run by the Women’s Tennis Association – becoming the first player representing Estonia to make the year-ending championships. In the same month, she also became the first Estonian tennis player to make the global top 10 in singles rankings, remaining there until October 2022.
Her highest place in the WTA rankings was number two in the world, in June 2022. Kontaveit has won six WTA singles tournaments and played in 16 finals. During her career, Kontaveit has played over 700 singles matches, representing Estonia at ITF, WTA, Fed Cup, and other tournaments.