February 22, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Is this the end for Jelena Jankovic?

Jelena Jankovic has been MIA since the US Open, on the sidelines as her ranking dropped to No. 159.

It was revealed by Sportski žurnal last Friday that the 32-year-old had back surgery in October in Madrid. And not only will she miss the beginning of the season, the former No. 1 might be done.

“In my heart, I would like to continue my career, but I will not make a decision about it now,” she told the newspaper.

She could return at Indian Wells or Miami with a protected ranking (60), and take advantage of the new wild-card rules.

Indian Wells is the site of her first big pro tournament, the closest geographically to her home in Rancho Santa Fe, California and the site of her biggest title, back in 2010. She has played it 16 times.

Tough years for durable Jankovic

But the last few years have been a struggle physically. And at a certain point a player who has been No. 1 will get weary of constantly playing at less than 100 per cent. And now, getting back into top form after serious surgery.

As young as 32 seems in the current tennis climate, the perspective changes somewhat when you consider Jankovic has been playing top-tier tournaments for 17 years. She has more than 1,200 WTA and Grand-Slam level matches on her odometer between singles and doubles.

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Jankovic on the practice court at the US Open in September. Will that end up being the final tournament of her career? (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Add to that, Jankovic has been extraordinarily sturdy during those years, missing relatively little time in Tour. She has played every Grand Slam, every year, since the 2004 Australian Open. 

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Jankovic at the Australian Open in January. She won’t play it this year – for the first time since 2002. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

When she’s feeling physically, there are few players at the top level who genuinely seem to enjoy what they’re doing on court – even when things aren’t going well. 

But she’s going to miss this one. 

Fun times on court

In her honour, Tennis.Life presents a gallery of some fun Jankovic moments through the years.

The best moment might have been this one – at the Rogers Cup in Montreal in 2014. In the middle of an entertaining marathon against Coco Vandeweghe (won by the American 7-6 (8), 2-6, 7-5 after Jankovic had defeated Sloane Stephens in another crowd-pleaser, 6-7 (7), 6-,4 7-6 (4) in the first round), she was attacked … by bugs.

And then, there are the JJ bags.

Here are some fantastic incarnations.

We’d be remiss in failing to mention Jankovic’s apparent 10-year head cold, which always had us wondering why she hasn’t managed a tissue sponsorship through her career.

If this is the end, she’ll definitely be missed.

On the plus side, it looks like she’s maximizing her time away, doing a lot of traveling and enjoying real life.

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