The former world number 7 and two time grand slam semi-finalist has decided to hang up her rackets for the second time after she returned to the professional circuit in September 2014 having previously retired from the sport in 2010. Vaidisova has cited persistent injuries as the reason for taking this decision. In an Instagram post to her fans she says-
“As many of you know,I have been struggling with various injuries on/off for the better part of the last 2 years and it has gotten to the point where I have spent more time in hospitals, physical therapy and doctors offices then on the court, playing the sport I love.This has been painful and exhausting, not just on my body, but on my mind as well and I have reached the point where I did not want to put my body through it anymore.”
Her comeback in 2014 was much anticipated at the time, particularly because of the enormous potential she had shown, that too very early on in her career. In October 2004 – her first full year on the professional circuit – she entered the Top 100, at No. 74. She was 15 years old and the youngest to be ranked that high by some margin. Just one year later, she would break into the Top 20 on the back of a phenomenal run during the Asian hard court season, winning a trio of titles in Seoul, Tokyo, and Bangkok. On 9 August 2006, at the age of 17 years, three months and two weeks, she became the 12th-youngest player in WTA Tour history to be ranked in the top 10.
Nicole had all the weapons required to be a great champion- hard and flat ground-strokes, a powerful swinging volley, an aggressively flat serve. She had an excellent power game – with the added bonus of a nifty touch on her backhand slice – and one with good instinct for when to attack. Her movement and defense were not reliable, but her sheer aggression masked her weaknesses. It was this aggression that saw her reach the semifinals of Roland Garros as a teenager, beating then-No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo in the fourth round and recovering from a set down to beat Venus Williams one round later before falling to Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets. It was this same aggression that saw her through to another semifinal in Melbourne Park, and defeat Mauresmo in another fourth round – this time at Wimbledon where the Frenchwoman was the defending champion – before falling to Ivanovic in a dramatic quarterfinal encounter. At the age of 19 she looked set to become one of the biggest superstars in women’s tennis. But it was not to be. Just when everyone felt that Vaidisova is inching closer towards winning a major, her downfall began.
Her drop was as severe as her rise; by the end of 2008 she was ranked No. 41, by 2009, No. 188 and unseeded in Grand Slam qualifying. The final match of her first career was an ITF encounter with Great Britain’s Heather Watson in Hammond, Louisiana. Vaidisova’s stepfather and former coach Ales Kodat announced her decision to retire from her professional career, at the age of 20, to the Czech daily Sport newspaper due to a lack of interest in tennis. “Her agent told me last week… she’s fed up with tennis and that’s understandable. She started very young”, Kodat said. Her relationship with fellow Czech tennis player, Radek Stepanek, whom she married in 2010 after three years of dating, is widely regarded as the reason behind her fall and eventual retirement. The couple’s divorce in the summer of 2013 was quickly followed by rumors – and the announcement – of her intention to return.
After her comeback in 2014, Vaidisova has hardly looked the player she used to be in the mid-2000’s. The impact of the four-and-half years of gap in her tennis career was there for all to see. Still she managed to push Simona Halep to three sets last spring at the Miami Open. But physical issues stunted what had the potential to be a major comeback for the veteran, who only played six tournaments in 2016, retiring in each of her final two losses.
Vaidisova’s retirement is indeed sad news for tennis fans around the globe as the game loses one of it’s most promising women’s tennis player.