Friday, September 2, 2022

Andrea Petkovic dances off the court and into the future

photo by Daniel Ward

Andrea Petkovic, the thoughtful, intelligent, creative, and enormously well-liked German player with the crowd-pleasing dance moves, announced her retirement from professional tennis after her first round match at the U.S. Open this week. Petkovic, who is 34, said that "...I still love the game, still have a tremendous amount of passion for the game. It's more the body that is not allowing me to play tennis anymore in a way that I want to play it, train the way I want to train, just play a full season really."

Petkovic lost to Switzerland's Belinda Bencic, and remarked later that "I was glad that it ended like this, with Belinda, somebody I love and respect so much."

The German star reached a career-high ranking of number 9 in the world in 2011. She won seven singles titles, reached the semifinals of the French Open in 2014, and reached three other major quarterfinals. She  spent nine years playing on the German Fed Cup team, and was a member of the German Olympic team in 2016.

Sadly, Petkovic's career was riddled with injuries--her neck, knees, thigh, and lower back all put her out of commission, sometimes for long periods of time, and she made some remarkable comebacks.

photo by Daniel Ward 

Petkovic's interests were always broad and varied: On a given day, she could be reading Goethe, writing poetry, going to museums--or watching basketball, enjoying rock music, and making hilarious videos; she named her video-producing alter ego Petkorazzi. Petko, as she is known by fans, is also known for her post-victory on-court dances. At one point, she became tired of doing the Petko Dance, and declared that she would no longer do it, but fans were insistent, so she continued the ritual, though usually in abbreviated form.


If you're goal is to provide the best in silliness and entertainment, you may sometimes need a partner, and who better in the category of hilarity than Jelena Jankovic? Petkovic and Jankovic (whose doubles matches were shows in themselves) made a series of videos in Charleston that are WTA classics.


Petkovic said, in announcing her retirement, that she may play an exhibition in Germany later this year. 

"I did feel," she said, "this year also for the first time that my narrative has been told and is not relevant anymore in a way, that the new generation is taking over. I think I brought everything to the game that I had to give. Obviously it's not in an amount as Serena, but in my own little world, I feel like I brought everything to it and my narrative was done."

That may be true, but for fans, the Petkovic narrative will long continue in memory as an exemplary story of perseverance, sportswomanship, athleticism, generosity, and absolute delight.

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