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Cornet retires, bids farewell to tennis after Roland-Garros loss

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PARIS (AP) — Alizé Cornet was given a standing ovation and a farewell trophy after playing the final match of her long tennis career, a 6-2, 6-1 loss to No. 7 seed Zheng Qinwen in the first round of the French Open on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old Cornet is a Frenchwoman who was given a wild-card entry into the tournament. She had announced ahead of time that this would be her last event before retirement.

French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton and tournament director Amélie Mauresmo participated in a ceremony after the match at Court Philippe Chatrier.

In an emotional speech, Cornet thanked her family and French fans, expressing her gratitude for their support over the years.

“You gave me incredible emotions. It’s tough to realize that it’s the last time I’m feeling this,” she said.

A video tribute highlighting her career, which began in 2005, was shown on the giant screens.

Cornet reached a career-high ranking of No. 11 in 2009 and is currently No. 106, after going 1-7 this season. She holds the women's record for most consecutive Grand Slam tournaments played at 69, a streak that ran from the 2007 Australian Open to this French Open.

Her career highlights include defeating No. 1 Serena Williams in the third round at Wimbledon in 2014 and one major quarterfinal appearance, at the Australian Open in 2022.

“We won’t forget you. I hope you enjoy your life after retirement,” said Zheng, the runner-up at this year's Australian Open.

Cornet said she decided last year she would stop playing professionally but waited to reveal the news until about a month ago. She is a published author and says she sees writing as part of the next chapter of her life.

“I wanted to have a couple more wins under my belt before I finished,” Cornet said. “But it was a lot of up and downs. Definitely, emotionally, it was not easy. Some days I was really excited about retirement and some other days I was very scared and very uncertain. So overall, I feel in peace today about it, and so I’m very happy about that decision.”

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis