It’s been more than eight years since Dinara Safina played her last WTA match at the 2011 Madrid Open against Julia Goerges. Even though she hasn’t won a Grand Slam, the Russian was among the most dominant players a decade ago — the younger sister of former world No.1 men’s player Marat Safin played three Grand Slam finals, reached the number one ranking in April 2009, clinched 12 WTA titles and won the Olympic silver medal in women’s singles at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
It’s a known fact that most players struggle to find a new purpose in life once they leave the hectic tennis schedule, as they abruptly change the only way of life they know. While her brother enjoys being single and doing nothing, as he said in an intriguing interview not so long ago, the 33-year-old Dinara has battled depression and feelings of loneliness when she faced the lack of competitive thrill and a sudden drop in popularity.
Talking to Behind the Racquet, Dinara said:
I think this happens quite often to players after they retire, they struggle with depression. One of the main reasons is because you go from playing on tour, the center of attention, to just another person. When I was number one in the world, everyone was gathering around me, wanting to just get a piece of me. Now it seems like many don’t really care. I have even tried multiple times to approach the president of our tennis federation to see if I could be a part of helping the next generation and they never contact me back.
Despite witnessing a lot of her colleagues returning to pro tennis, even after over a decade of being away from the sport, Dinara doesn’t have those ambitions, although she would like to be a coach:
Even though she’s recently finished her law degree, Dinara still has her mind on tennis, so she’s directly approaching players and agents in order to hopefully start her coaching career. Dinara was one of the most likable personalities on the WTA tour and I’d certainly love to see her back, in the coaching role, as soon as possible.