US Open champion Flavia Pennetta believes lifting a first grand slam title next to her childhood friend was the perfect way to end her career.
Pennetta beat fellow Italian and long-time companion Roberta Vinci 7-6 (7/4) 6-2 and then used her victory speech to announce her retirement in front of a shocked crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The world number 26 will still play on until the end of the season but this was her last outing at Flushing Meadows and her final match at a grand slam event.
Pennetta had been rated 150/1 to win before the fortnight began and at 33, she becomes the oldest female in the Open era to win a major tournament for the first time.
Pennetta is projected to rise to eighth in the world rankings, but the veteran Italian was in no doubt about her decision to call it a day.
“Sometimes we are more scared to take the decision because we don’t know what we’re going to do after but I think it’s going to be a pretty good life,” Pennetta said.
“I’m really proud of myself. I think I did everything that I expect. More. Much more.
“You start when you are really young and you make a lot of decisions, hard decisions, you lose so many things when you’re young.
“With this, winning today, my life is perfect. I cannot say anything different. Perfect.”
Vinci and Pennetta first played together when they were nine years old in Brindisi, Pennetta’s home town, and as teenagers the pair moved to Rome where they enrolled with the Italian tennis federation’s talent programme and lived together as room-mates for four years.
After her historic victory, Pennetta whispered to Vinci her decision to retire as they sat next to each other on court, waiting for the presentation to begin.
“I told her, ’Roberta, this is my last New York’,” Pennetta said.
“And she say, ‘che? Che? Huh?’ I say, ‘Yes.’ She said ’No way. It’s perfect. Go. Go’.” Pennnetta added: “It’s amazing to have the chance to play with one of your friends. Before the match we said. ‘It doesn’t matter. We’re going to win’.
“It’s going to be a big win for both of us. It’s something amazing, I didn’t think to be here. She didn’t think neither to be here so it’s amazing for everyone.”
Last night, Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza claimed their second straight Grand Slam title in the women’s doubles, beating Yaroslava Shvedova and Casey Dellacqua 6-3 6-3.
Hingis also won the mixed doubles title alongside Leander Paes on Saturday.
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