Harare — THE world's women's tennis number one doubles team of Cara Black from Zimbabwe and Liezel Huber of the United States have split.
The two have been playing together as a team since 2005 although Black at one stage teamed up with Australia's Rennae Stubb while her American partner was recuperating from an injury.
But Huber announced at the weekend that her five-year "marriage" with Black was coming to an end and they will not be playing together any more during this year's WTA Tour this year.
In fact, the two players have already gone their separate ways and will be playing with different partners on Tour, starting from this week in Europe.
Black will be playing with Shahar Peer of Israel at the upcoming WTA event in Stuttgart, Germany.
Huber, on the other hand, reported on her blog on USTA.com that she's going to play with different partners, starting with Jelena Jankovic in Stuttgart and then with Nadia Petrova in Rome, Italy.
Petrova's regular doubles partner, Sam Stosur, is limiting her doubles play.
Huber also might play some summer events with her US Fed Cup teammate, Melanie Oudin.
Rumours had speculated that a break-up might be coming after Huber played doubles with Petrova of Russia last week in Charleston at the Family Circle Cup.
They won the doubles title at this event at Charleston in South Carolina, United States.
Liezel, who was blogging from Fed Cup last week, said this about the latest developments:
"It was not an easy decision (to split up with Black). We have had a great partnership. We both want to be better players and right now it is best for us to just take a little break."
But Black and Huber have not ruled out playing again together in the future.
"We might get back together and we might not . . . I am just going to work hard and pick up partners as I go along. That is another challenge in life but I am going to enjoy and embrace the challenge.
"Fortunately, I am healthy so I think it will be okay. I have spoken to Melanie about playing some of the American hardcourt tournaments but it is a question of ranking and getting into the tournaments. I am open to any possibility.
"On a personal note, my regular doubles partner, Cara Black and I are taking a mutual break from being exclusive doubles partners. Do not be surprised to see us playing with each other or with someone else in the next couple of months. It was not an easy decision. We have had a great partnership and we are appreciative of all the fan support."
Huber said both Black and her are entered in Stuttgart with different partners but they will continue to strive to do what they love most and that is to compete on the tennis court.
"I just wanted to thank everybody for their support. It was not any easy decision but we announced it today. We both want to be better players and right now it is best for us to just take a little break. We might get back together and we might not."
One of the most successful women's tennis doubles partnership in the world, Black and Huber first combined forces in 2005.
In 2005, their first year as regular partners, the pair won Wimbledon, but four days later Huber tore multiple ligaments in her left knee during a mixed doubles match in World Team tennis.
Black, uncertain whether Huber would play again, formed a new partnership with Australian Stubbs, with whom she stayed until 2006.
And when they reunited in 2007, the two players used their complementary talents -- Huber's baseline power and Black's deftness at the net -- to win 29 titles together on the Tour.
While Huber and Black had a successful partnership, winning 29 titles together including four Grand Slams, they have been unable to score a win over the Williams sisters -- Serena and Venus -- losing to them in the last three Grand Slams in straight sets.
In their last tournament as a team, Huber and Black were upset in the first round in Miami, United States, last month.