| Richard Krajicek announcing his retirement in Rosmalen, near Amsterdam, on Thursday
Den Bosch: Former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek retired from tennis on Thursday after a career which had more than its share of highs and lows.
His long-standing elbow injury flared up again this week at the Ordina Open, where he lost in the first round, causing him to pull out of Wimbledon and finally forcing him to call time on his 14-year professional career.
Reading from a carefully prepared statement, the 1996 Wimbledon champion fought back tears as he explained his reasons.
“I don’t think it will come as a surprise to most of you that I have decided to stop tennis with immediate effect,” the 31-year-old told a crowded press conference.
“After my match on Tuesday, I said I wanted to play on until the US Open, but in my heart I knew it was the end.
“For the last few years I have been fighting with my body and I have lost.
“Tennis was everything I ever wanted to do and winning Wimbledon was the crowning moment of my career. I won 17 tournaments, reached No. 4 in the rankings and won Wimbledon in 1996. No one can ever take those things away from me.”
An emotional Krajicek said the decision, when it finally came, had been an easy one.
“I wanted to play Wimbledon, but I only wanted to play if I thought I could win. At Queen’s it all went well but when I arrived here in Rosmalen the pain started again.
“I wanted one more chance to play on my grass (at Wimbledon) but participating is not important for me. I play to win matches and to win the big prizes.”
The towering Dutchman said he had done everything he could to get back to his best. “I had three knee operations, one elbow operation, one foot operation but every time I kept thinking I could get back to my former levels.
“To anyone who asks if it was all worth it, I say to them I would do it all again, even with the injuries.”
Last year, Krajicek returned after being sidelined for 20 months following an elbow operation.
He reached the quarter finals at Wimbledon before bowing out to Belgium’s Xavier Malisse in a marathon five-setter.
“In one way I was happy, but in another I was really disappointed because I should have been in the final,” he said.
Krajicek will now take up a new role as tournament director for the World Indoor Tournament in Rotterdam.
“Tennis was my past and my future (and) I will always be involved,” he said.