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By Chris Oddo

Sara Errani French Open (November 18, 2012) -- Former doubles World No. 1 and 2011 Australian Open doubles champion Gisela Dulko of Argentina announced her retirement on Sunday at the age of 27.

Dulko recorded eight straight top 100 singles seasons from 2004 to 2011, winning four singles titles to go with seventeen doubles titles.

“This was not an easy decision, despite the fact that it has been on my mind for quite some time,” Dulko said in a statement which posted on her website. “Tennis has been in my life for the past 20 years.”

Dulko played her first WTA main draw in Miami in 2001, and had her first top 50 season in 2004. She would go on to record five top 50 seasons and reach a career-high ranking of 26 in the world in 2005.

Her greatest triumphs were on the doubles court, however. Dulko embarked on a wildly successful run with her partner Flavia Pennetta of Italy in 2010. She won eight titles (seven with Pennetta), and reached the No. 1 ranking after winning the WTA Championships, finishing the season with a 55-14 doubles for the year.

“A very special thanks to Flavia Pennetta,” Dulko wrote. “Together we became No. 1 in the world in doubles, won a Grand Slam and a Championships title."

In 2011, Pennetta and Dulko won the 2011 Australian Open when they defeated Maria Kirilenko and Victoria Azarenka in the final. The most beautiful memory I carry of Flavia, however, is our friendship.”

Last year, Dulko paired with fellow Argentine Paola Suarez with the intention of making a run for an Olympic gold medal. They reached four semifinals over the course of the year but lost in the first round at the Olympics to the Chinese pairing of Li Na and Shuai Zhang.

Dulko was married to footballer Fernando Gaga in Buenos Aires in 2011. She was coached by her brother Alejandro.

“This is my way of saying goodbye to tennis,” Dulko wrote, “a sport with which I fell in love as a very young girl and will continue to love my whole life.”


(Photo Credit: AP Photo)

 

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