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Teary farewell for Schett

January 20, 2005 11:39 IST

With tears welling up in her eyes, Barbara Schett bowed out of top-level tennis at the Australian Open on Thursday, ending the career of the most successful female player in Austria's history.

The 28-year-old, who announced her decision to quit midway through last year, was sent into retirement by 26th seed Daniela Hantuchova, who saw her off with a 6-4, 6-0 second round victory.

Schett won three WTA Tour singles titles and reached the U.S. Open quarter-finals in 1999, but she'll perhaps be remembered just as much for being one of the most glamorous players on the circuit.

Nicknamed "Babsi", Schett was the darling of the British press at Wimbledon in 2001, with tabloid newspapers carrying pictures of her each day, even labelling her "the new (Anna) Kournikova".

Fighting back tears at a media conference, Schett said she had been surprised how emotional she had been against Hantuchova.

"(I was) not very emotional until she had match point," she said.

"Then suddenly I had tears in my eyes. I was like, 'Oh, my God. Where does that come from now?'

"I knew that sooner or later I was going to realise, 'OK, this is going to be my last, this is going to be the last point of my career.'

"It's been what I've been doing for all my life. I just suddenly realised that and it was very emotional."

Schett, who was ranked as high as number seven in 1999, ended her career at 97, and said she was quitting because she was not enjoying the game any more.

"For me, it was a clear decision," she said.

"I thought, if I'm not improving, if the passion is not coming back, then I definitely want to quit.

"I always thought that I should be ranked much higher than I was at the end now."

"I mean, I think I'm very happy about my career. I had a great time."

Schett, who said she would remain involved in tennis in some capacity, also won 10 doubles titles and amassed more than £3 million in prize money.

Simon Cambers
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