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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, December 6, 2019

 
Caroline Wozniacki

Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki will close the curtain on her glorious 15-year career at next month's Australian Open.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

Sunshine will set at the Australian Open.

Caroline Wozniacki announced she will retire after the Australian Open next month.

Watch: Legends That Left in 2019

Though the news comes as a surprise, Melbourne is a fitting finale for Wozniacki, nicknamed "Sunshine" for her perpetually positive demeanor. Wozniacki ascended to her career peak capturing her first career Grand Slam championship at the 2018 Australian Open.

The 29-year-old Dane, who made history as the first woman from a Scandanavian nation to rise to world No. 1, wed former NBA all-star David Lee in a lavish ceremony on June 16th in Tuscany.

Wozniacki, who has been playing while battling rheumatoid arthritis, said fulfilling her tennis dreams and her desire to start a family were contributing factors to closing the curtain on her glorious 15-year career.

"I've accomplished everything I could ever dream of on the court," Wozniacki wrote in a Twitter post. "I've always told myself, when the time comes, that there are things away from tennis that I want to do more, then it's time to be done.

"In recent months, I've realized that there is a lot more in life that I'd like to accomplish off the court. Getting married to David was one of those goals and starting a family with him while continuing to travel the world and helping raise awareness about rheumatoid arthritis (project upcoming) are all passions of mine moving forward.

"So with that, today I am announcing that I will be retiring from professional tennis after the Australian Open in January. This has nothing to do with my health and this isn't a goodbye, I look forward to sharing my exciting journey ahead with all of you!"




Currently ranked No. 37, Wozniacki posted a 20-15 record in 2019 with eight of her 20 wins coming in two tournaments: her run to the Charleston final in April and a trip to the Beijing semifinals in October where she lost to Naomi Osaka. Wozniacki suffered opening-round exits in five of her last 11 events she competed while sometimes coping with the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.

The two-time US Open finalist has won 30 career singles titles, including the 2017 WTA Finals, owns a 630-262 career record and has earned more than $35 million in a career that began in 2005.



Wozniacki was a popular presence on Tour and shared her career journey on social media. Throughout her career, she made news off court as well.

The long-time adidas endorser was engaged to golfer Rory McIlroy during a three-year relationship, she played tennis against President Barack Obama on the White House court, ran the New York City marathon and donated all proceeds from her run to charity, smoldered in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, incorporated boxing training into her workouts and formed long-time friendships with Serena Williams, who served as a bridesmaid in Wozniacki's wedding, Agnieszka Radwanska, who retired last year, and Angelique Kerber.

Wozniacki wasn't shy about voicing her views on rivalries and feuds either. She publicly called Maria Sharapova's agent, Max Eisenbud, out as a coward too frightened to face her after Eisenbud blasted Wozniacki and Radwanska as "journeyman players" who "have no clue" about the facts of his client's doping case in comments to Ben Rothenberg.

In 2009, a 19-year-old Wozniacki signaled her status as a major player knocking off former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach her first Grand Slam final at the US Open where she fell to Kim Clijsters.

A quick-footed counter-puncher, whose athleticism, tenacity and bold two-handed backhand are major weapons, Wozniacki grew into one of the game's fittest players and fiercest competitors.

Wozniacki show it all rallying to her milestone major in a mesmerizing Melbourne final in 2018.

World No. 1 Simona Halep was six points from her first Grand Slam crown holding a 4-3 lead in the decisive set when Wozniacki staged a career-defining comeback.

The second-ranked Wozniacki surged through the last three games edging Halep, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4, in a pulsating Australian Open final to capture her maiden major in her third Grand Slam final.

On a steamy Saturday night in Melbourne, Wozniacki vanquished Grand Slam ghosts and a gallant Halep in a glorious two hour, 50-minute fight.

The current and former No. 1 pushed each other all over the court in a clash of dizzying drama. When it was done, fans inside Rod Laver Arena shared the love and respect for both women and a spirited battle.

The crowd serenaded a smiling Wozniacki to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” while Wozniacki embraced the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup like a long-lost friend she couldn’t let go.



In her 43rd career Grand Slam tournament, Wozniacki achieved her major moment in dream style.

The 27-year-old Wozniacki won her maiden major, the champion’s check for $4 million Australian dollars, became the first Dane to claim a Grand Slam and regained world No. 1—exactly six years to the day since she last held the top spot, which is a WTA record for the longest gap between times at the top.

"Obviously that's very special," Wozniacki said after her major moment. "I think being new Grand Slam champion and world No. 1 sounds pretty good. I'm very excited for that. It's a dream come true."

It was a tremendous test of legs, lungs and resilience as Wozniacki won precisely two more points than Halep (110 to 108) joining Monica Seles (1991 semifinals), Jennifer Capriati (2002 final), Serena Williams (2003 semifinals) and Angelique Kerber (2016 first round) as the fifth woman to win the Australian Open after saving a match point during the tournament.





Wozniacki fought off a pair of match points and a 1-5 deficit in the decider surging through six straight games to rally past No.119 Jana Fett in the second round.

Next month, Wozniacki will return to Melbourne, likely to a celebratory chorus of "Sweet Caroline", in a fitting farewell.


 

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