But inconsistent play and injuries in the later stages of her career cut Ivanovic’s reign at the top of the women’s game short. This past year, she failed to advance past the third round in any of the Grand Slams and is ranked 63rd in the world.
“This has been a tough decision, but there is much to celebrate,” Ivanovic said in a statement. “Any professional sport demands top physical form, and it is well known that I have been hampered by injuries. . . . I can only play if I can perform up to my own high standards, and I can no longer do that. It is time to move on.”
Upon turning pro in 2003, Ivanovic was viewed as a rising star on the WTA Tour. Using her flat, powerful groundstrokes, she won her first WTA singles title in 2005 at just age 17.
Ivanovic, who started playing tennis at 5 in an empty Belgrade swimming pool in war-torn Serbia, was part of the Serbian contingent that stormed onto the professional tennis scene in the early to mid-2000s, including fellow former WTA world No. 1 Jelena Janokovic and 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic.
And despite not being at her peak on the tennis court, Ivanovic was still one of the highest-paid female athletes in the world with endorsements from luxury brands like Rolex and a lifetime deal with Adidas. According to Forbes, Ivanovic was the eighth-highest paid female athlete this past year with a total earning of $7.4 million despite winning just $1.9 million in prize money.
In January, she and German soccer star Bastian Schweinsteiger were married in a lavish ceremony in Venice.
And while she is leaving the sport she once ruled, Ivanovic wrote in her retirement letter she “won’t be disappearing completely from the circuit.”
“While my competitive chapter is coming to an end, tennis and my love for the game will still remain very close to my heart,” Ivanovic said.