A tearful Caroline Wozniacki broke down on court surrounded by her family as she closed the curtain on her 15-year playing career.
The Danish star lost to Ons Jabeur 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 in the third round of the Australian Open, and she decided to call it a day at the age of 29 after revealing last month that the tournament would be her last.
While she would have been hoping to bow out in a blaze of glory, Wozniacki insisted she was proud of her career and had no regrets about the way it had panned out, joking that it was inevitable she would finish with a routine mistake.
Caroline Wozniacki couldn’t hold back the tears as she called time on her 15-year tennis career
Her family offer support as she embraces her husband after playing on court for the last time
She shares a kiss with her husband as her team celebrate her career in emotional final day
Wozniacki embarked on a lap of honour as ‘Sweet Caroline’ played out on the sound system
‘I think it was only fitting that my last match would be a three-setter, a grinder, and that I would finish my career with a forehand error,’ she said after the match.
She said she had been overwhelmed by the support she had received as tributes were played to her on the big screen, and she collected a huge bouquet of flowers.
‘There’s a lot of emotions, a lot of things I can’t compartmentalise now,’ she added. ‘A lot of excitement. A little sadness. Flashbacks to since I was a kid to this moment.
‘The fact that it’s gone so quick but at the same time it feels like I’ve been out here for a long time. Players coming up to me and congratulating me. Just feeling the love from everyone has been very special.’
The Danish star poses with team as she collects a bouquet of flowers while tributes pour in
Born: 11 July 1990, Odense, Denmark
Turned pro: 2005
Career titles: 30 WTA
Highest ranking: No 1 (2010)
Grand Slam win: Australian Open (2018)
Finalist: US Open (2009, 2014)
Prize money: $34,075,665
There were emotional scenes as ‘Sweet Caroline’ played out around the sound system at the stadium, as she embarked on a lap of honour, waving to spectators with tears in her eyes.
Tributes came from stars of the game such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic said: ‘I don’t know how to say goodbye to you. We’ve lived in the same place for many years, I’ve seen you jog in the street and walk your dogs and I think we’ve developed a nice relationship.’
Nadal said: ‘I am very sad to be making this video because everybody wants to see you play tennis.’
Federer added: ‘I was so happy for you when you won the Australian Open and also world No 1, that’s the pinnacle of our sport and you did it all.’
Wozniacki had come from behind to beat Dayana Yastremska in the second round, but there was to be no miracle this time as Jabeur held on despite the Dane making a recovery from 0-3 down in the final set.
She admitted that the thought of the match being her last played heavily on her mind, which could have played a part as she tried to keep unforced errors to a minimum.
She flies the Danish flag as she soaks up the limelight following the final match of her career
‘Throughout the match there were a couple of times where I was like, “Shoot, this could be my last one”,’ she said. ‘It was just like, “I don’t want it to be the last one, I want to be out there fighting”.
But the 2018 Australian Open winner said she gave it her all and was content with her final performance – saying her tears were ones of happiness.
‘I fought like my life depended on it. I think the result today doesn’t matter to me as much as the way that I fought, that I gave it everything. I wanted to be out there. I did everything. Throughout my career, that’s what I’m known for.
Wozniacki insisted her tears were those of happiness as she wrapped up her playing days
‘It’s exciting. It’s terrifying. It’s a lot of emotions at the same time. But I’m happy. I’m very happy. Even though I was crying a lot earlier, it really wasn’t sad tears.’
Wozniacki turned pro in 2005 and can certainly be pleased when she looks back on her career as she battled hard in a landscape that has been dominated by the likes of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
She won 30 WTA tour titles, and became world No 1 in 2010, although her only Grand Slam came as recently as 2018 as she lifted the Australian Open title. She came close to clinching another when she reached the US Open final in 2009 and 2014.