Dominika Cibulkova announces retirement

Former world No. 4 Dominika Cibulkova announced her retirement Tuesday, coinciding with the official launch of her new memoir.

It’s no surprise, as the 30-year-old Slovak hasn’t played a match since the French Open.

She told the WTA website that she had “100 per cent decided” to retire after that match in Paris, a loss to Aryna Sabalenka. 

But she’s only officially announcing it now.

Cibulkova has invested in a tennis academy and a nightclub, per the WTA interview.

She retires with eight WTA Titles – including the Tour Finals in 2016 – and nearly $14 million in prize money.

WTA Shenzhen groups set

The pool groups for the first WTA Tour Finals edition in Shenzhen, China were drawn Friday.

Each pool contains two Grand Slam champions.

But it appears the Red group – No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, Petra Kvitova, Naomi Osaka and Belinda Bencic – could be the most explosive.

The Purple group, led by four-time WTA title winner Karolina Pliskova, has Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and US Open champion Bianca Andreescu.

Osaka vs. Kvitova and Barty vs. Bencic will kick things off on Sunday. 

The session, which begins at 4:30 p.m. Shenzhen time (4:30 a.m. EDT) also will feature two doubles matches.

Shenzhen WTA Finals add Shiseido

The newly relocated WTA Tour Finals will now be called the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen, after the Japanese beauty company signed on as the title sponsor.

The event has confirmed the total prize money will be $14 million. The singles champion, if undefeated, would take home $4.725 million and the doubles champions, if undefeated, would share $1 million.

Shiseido, founded in Japan in 1872, has 46,000 employees around the world.

The slogan for the tournament will be “Sparks will Fly”, “to represent the energy, passion and excellence ignited by the very best in women’s tennis on the sport’s biggest stage.”

No respect for Karolina Muchova

The lack of respect for 22-year-old Karolina Muchova, who upset No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova and reached the quarterfinals at her first Wimbledon, is unfortunate.

Muchova is No. 68, and will be at a career-high No. 43 Monday. She went from the qualies to the final in Prague, among other results this year.

And even as she reached the second week, the WTA website still hasn’t updated her information – nor has the Lausanne tournament next week.

And yet, the WTA was able to provide a “glamour” shot to Lausanne of … No. 100 Fiona Ferro.

(They could have asked the ITF – or Tennis.Life).

The Maleevas still tennising

Perhaps the most prolific tennis family ever, the Maleeva sisters still are in the game.

Youngest sister Maggie, now 44 (career high No. 4) is playing the legends at Wimbledon.

She’s the co-founder of an organic food company in Bulgaria.

Big sister Manuela, 52 (No. 3) who retired in 1994, lives in Switzerland. Middle sister Katerina got to No. 6.

This week, Manuela is hosting Genie Bouchard as “a bit of a coach, a bit of a sparring partner” for a few days. Bouchard is friends with Maleeva’s two daughters. 

All three Maleevas were seeded for three Slams in 1993, which is nuts.

WTA injuries decimate Rome event

In addition the players who withdrew pre-tournament, the WTA side of the Rome event has been decimated by pullouts – in part because of the double-up schedule forced by Wednesday’s rainout.

Naomi Osaka woke up with a thumb problem Friday and gave Kiki Bertens a walkover. Serena Williams won her first match and pulled out with a left knee injury before she was to play sister Venus.

Alizé Cornet (right adductor), Jelena Ostapenko (virus, slight fever), Garbiñe Muguruza and Julia Goerges (right adductors) and Petra Kvitova (left leg) retired mid-match. 

Even considering normal pre-Slam caution, it’s a lot.

“Studying Sharapova” a fab elective

The University of Santa Barbara currently has a course called “Picturing Maria Sharapova”.

It’s taught by the fabulous Anita Stahl, a doctoral student in feminist studies.

Stahl says it’s not really about Sharapova. She’s the vehicle through which to study “gender, femininity, globalization, labor, immigration, history, race, and media, according to a WTA story, 

Sharapova’s memoir is required reading, of course.

A big tennis fan who moonlights in tennis media, Stahl also has taught a course called “The Meaning of Serena Williams”.

The story doesn’t ask the obvious question: will the women herself be a guest speaker?

Georgina Clark award highlights IW reunion

Alumni gathered at Indian Wells as Chris Evert received the Georgina Clark Mother award for “her contribution to the cultural and emotional life of the WTA family.”

Clark, a mother of five who died in 2010, was a WTA vice-president and the first woman to umpire a Wimbledon final: Evert vs. Navratilova in 1984.

“To see her grow and the women, person, the mother that she is. We would have never guessed that either one of us would have turned out the way we turned out, and we end up so close,” Navratilova said.
(Warning: mullet alert)

Hlavackova latest mom-to-be

Andrea Hlavackova, a 32-year-old Czech currently ranked No. 8 in the world in doubles, will be off the court for awhile.

She announced on her Instagram, in conjunction with a story on the WTA Tour’s website, that she and husband Fabrizio Sestini are expecting a baby this summer.

Hlavackova and countrywoman Barbora Strycova played in the Tour Finals in Singapore last October. But she hasn’t yet played in 2019.

“It was definitely something we planned in our lives, though it happened quicker than we expected,” Sestini-Hlavackova said.

She and Sestini, a tournament-relations director for the WTA, married in July, 2017.  

WTA picks top-5 outfits for ’18

Judging by the five outfits chosen by the WTA as its best of the 2018 season, it has not been a banner year for women’s tennis fashion.

It happens. At least they didn’t choose the peculiar Nike combination of pink (technically: ” guava ice”) dress over longer shorties that combined orange and green (officially: Orange Peel and Rainforest).

Serena Williams’s catsuit made the cut, hopefully more for the statement it made than the actual design. Also making it was the early-season adidas jumpsuit and Simona Halep’s “Neo Turq” Nike outfit from the French Open.