All year, we have heard people talk about how strong the lure of the Olympics was; how some of them were looking only as far as that and no longer. Which got me thinking. How many players might call it a day at the end of this year? For a variety of reasons, many people have been wondering just how much longer the likes of Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Venus Williams, Tommy Haas and even Jelena Jankovic will go on.
Looking back through recent Olympic years, there actually seem to be relatively few high-profile retirements in the years of the Games themselves. In 2008, we had the shock retirement of Justine Henin – though that came in May and was nothing to do with the Games itself. In 2012, Britain’s Elena Baltacha says she may not go on after shin surgery while Fernando Gonzalez and Ivan Ljubicic quit earlier this year. Dinara Safina, runner-up in Beijing, is still officially not retired, but confirmation is expected soon.
For Roddick and Hewitt, the temptation is always to go on and when they have good tournaments, as they are still well capable of doing, then they don’t think about retirement. In tennis terms, each man is capable of good things still but it is the state of their bodies that is causing them most concern. Hewitt has more metal in him than an armoured car but he refuses to give in and besides, would surely want to go out in the Australian summer, whenever that time finally comes.
Roddick, too, is a stubborn one and believes he is still able to produce it when he needs it. It wouldn’t surprise me if the American finds form again this summer as the US Open approaches and he continues to talk a good game.
The big thing, though, is that you’re a long time retired and in the men’s game, coming back a few years later is almost impossible (Tommy Haas and his post-surgery comebacks excepted). It’s human nature to ask our sports stars how long they think they can go on but there’s no need to push people into retirement. Maybe we should just celebrate them while we still can.