U.S. Open Champ Flavia Pennetta Quits While She's Ahead

Photo: Mike Frey/BPI/Rex/REX USA.
Wait, what? That was basically the reaction on Saturday night, when just-crowned U.S. Open champion Flavia Pennetta finished her speech.

"One month ago, I made a big decision. This is the way I'd like to say goodbye to tennis," the 33-year-old Italian player said after defeating countrywoman and best friend Roberta Vinci (a.k.a. the woman who beat Serena Williams on Friday). "I’m really happy! It's what all players want to do. To go out with a big trophy."

Pennetta, who was seeded 26, became the oldest first-time Grand Slam champion, ESPN reports. The score, 7-6 (4), 6-2, pretty much indicated that Vinci hadn't fully recovered from her match against Williams, which snatched away the latter player's hopes to win every Grand Slam tournament in a calendar year.

"Before the match we say, 'It doesn't matter. We're gonna win. It's going to be a big win for both of us. It's going to be a really big win for both of us,'" Pennetta said. "It's something amazing...I didn't think to be here. She didn't think neither to be here today. So it's amazing for our country. [It's] amazing for everyone."

"[We proved] miracles can happen," Vinci said, "because I beat Serena. A miracle. And then two Italians reach the Grand Slam final. A miracle."

Williams, by the way, sent a gracious tweet to Pennetta after her win. "@flavia_pennetta congrats I'm so happy you won. You deserved it. I am also happy for the rest of your life's journey. I will miss your smile."

Pennetta's retirement is, as ESPN's Melissa Isaacson called it, "the ultimate mic drop." Wouldn't we all like to quit our jobs at 33, after picking up a $3.3 million check, and go home to fellow pro and fiancé Fabio Fognini?

But her coach, Salvador Navarro, put it in terms of work-life balance with which we can all identify: "The families are home. [Playing on tour] is not as nice as it looks. At first we like it, but it's not nice like that. The money, of course, is important but I think life is more."

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