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Pro Media & News

CiCi Bellis announces retirement from professional tennis

Victoria Chiesa | January 20, 2022


CiCi Bellis, once one of the brightest young talents in tennis, announced her retirement from the sport Wednesday at age 22 due to recurring injuries. Limited to 11 tournaments from the spring of 2018, and sidelined for all of 2021 as a result of wrist, arm and elbow problems, Bellis shared her decision in an Instagram post. 

 

"Last year, after seeing little to no improvement with my arm, I made the decision to stop playing tennis," Bellis wrote. "I had been in the same cycle of rehab, training and injuries for three plus years and mentally/physically, just couldn't do it anymore. I absolutely love the sport and have nothing but the best memories from my time playing, but it was definitely time to move on."

After a decorated junior career where she reached world No. 1 and led Team USA to a junior Billie Jean King Cup title, Bellis exploded onto the scene seven years ago as a teenager, famously defeating Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the 2014 US Open as a 15-year-old wild card world No. 1,084—a wild card she earned that summer as the youngest winner of the USTA Girls' 18s National Championships since Lindsay Davenport in 1991.

With the victory over Cibulkova in her WTA tour-level debut, Bellis became the youngest player to win a match at the US Open since Anna Kournikova reached the fourth round in 1996, and the youngest American to win a match in New York since Mary Joe Fernandez in 1986.

 

She ended 2014 as the world's top-ranked junior, only the second American since 1982 to be No. 1 in the year-end ITF girls' rankings.

 

On the women's tour, the Californian went on to peak at a career-high ranking of world No. 35 three years later, when she was voted as the 2017 WTA Newcomer of the Year. Four surgeries as a result of an initial wrist injury the next March followed, and despite a return in 2020 that saw her reach the third round at the Australian Open and the second round at the US Open, Bellis played her last tournament that November.

 

"I absolutely love the sport and have nothing but the best memories from my time playing," she continued, "but it was definitely time to move on."

 

Foregoing a potential tennis scholarship at Stanford University with her decision to turn professional, Bellis used her time off to return to school. Studying for a bachelor's degree in business and finance through the WTA's partnership with Indiana University East, Bellis also shared she'll graduate later this spring, plans to pursue an MBA, and has pivoted to working at venture capital firm leAD Sports & Health Tech, based in Lake Nona, Fla. near the USTA National Campus.

 

"Needless to say, it’s right up my alley, and I literally find myself sprinting to the office each day because of how excited I am," she said.

 

"Thanks to everyone for supporting me throughout my tennis career. You are one of the big reasons I continued to push through the injuries for so long."

 

Peers who wished Bellis well on her post included Czech Marketa Vondrousova, with whom she reached the girls' doubles final at the 2014 French Open; 2016 Rio Olympic champion Monica Puig, who called her a "champ both on and off the court;" and fellow Americans Usue Arconada, Hailey Baptiste, Madison Keys, Asia Muhammad, Grace Min, Christina McHale, Jessica Pegula, Alison Riske and Sachia Vickery.

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