23 March 2011

Zimbabwe: Cara Speaks on Retirement

CARA BLACK, the most successful female player in the history of tennis in Zimbabwe, has not yet put a timeframe on her retirement from the sport that gave her both fame and fortune.

Black turned professional in January 1998 and after having been on the road for the past 13 years, one would expect her to be busy making her retirement plans, especially after having just turned 32.

Black celebrated her 32nd birthday on February 17 this year but she said yesterday that she was still itching to play the demanding sport that has seen her reaping 63 women's doubles titles.

She has also won all four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles and three of the four Grand Slam titles in women's doubles, giving her a total of US$5 866 727 in career prize-money.

Speaking to The Herald yesterday, Black, who returned home from Australia on Tuesday night for a three-week holiday in the country, said she still feels that she has got a few more years left in her playing career.

Now a doubles specialist, Black said although she was moving towards the end of her career, she had not decided on when exactly she would be hanging up her rackets.

"I know that I'm moving towards the end of my career but I don't know when I'm going to retire. In fact, I'm not putting any timeframe on it.

"I can still play tennis for a few more months or years but I know that there will come a time when the body says enough is enough and that is when I will retire from the sport," Black said.

Black hasn't been in the news or making headlines of late as she is currently recuperating from a right knee surgery which she underwent in Australia in November last year.

In fact, Black was last seen in action in January this year when she competed in the first Grand Slam of the season - the Australian Open - in Melbourne. At the 2011 Australian Open, Black played in both the women's doubles and mixed doubles competitions with Australia's Anastasia Rodionova and Leander Paes of India.

In the women's doubles in Melbourne, Black and Rodionova were knocked out in the quarter-finals by American Liezel Huber and Nadia Petrova of Russia who beat them in straight sets 6-1, 6-4.

After reaching the last eight of the women's doubles, Black teamed-up with India's Paes in the mixed doubles and they only got as far as the second round.

Black and Paes, who were the defending mixed doubles champions at this year's Australian Open, were sent crashing out of the tournament by Taipei's Yung-Jan Chan and Paul Hanley of Australia who upset them 7-6 (11), 7-6 (5).

Despite Black being eliminated from both doubles and mixed doubles, Black was a sideline commentator for Seven including the grand final for the women's doubles and was present for former doubles partner Rennae Stubbs's speech.

And after leaving Melbourne at the end of the 2011 Australian Open, Black decided to take a "little bit of time off" from tennis and has been inactive for the past two months.

She revealed yesterday that playing at this year's Australian Open aggravated her knee injury and this forced her to take a break from playing tennis.

"In fact, I had an operation on my right knee in Australia in November last year. I had a torn meniscus and they also had to remove a cyst.

"I tried hard to come back for the Australian hardcourt circuit in January but it was too soon although I managed to play in the Australian Open.

"And after that, I decided to take some time off (from the sport), staying in Australia and here in Zimbabwe where I will be for the next three weeks . . . It's nice to be back home," Black said.

She also said she hasn't decided on when she will go back on the court, as her knee is still sore.

"I haven't fully recovered from my knee operation and I still haven't made a decision on my comeback. Hopefully, I'll make my comeback during the clay season in a month or so in Europe and if not that, I think I'll be ready for the grass season between June and July.

"But that will all depend on how my knee pulls off. It's understandable to have these sort of injuries as I've been playing tennis for a long time now and the body tends to get these sorts of niggles," Black said.

She also said that she was missing playing tennis on the professional circuit.

"It's not been funny sitting around and doing a lot of rehabilitation. Although, I've played a lot (of tennis) in the past 13 years or so, travelling around the world, I'm really missing it (playing on the professional circuit).

"I'm missing the travelling, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants, and it's not funny," Black said.

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