News broke today that Dinara was pulling out of RG and taking an indefinite leave from the tour in order to let her back heal properly. Thanks to Christina, here's the full translation:
Dinara Safina: “I don’t know when I’ll come back.”
Former #1 ranked tennis player Dinara Safina spoke to Sport Express about the reasons behind her decision not only to miss Roland Garros, which starts on May 22, but also to take an indefinite break from playing.
“How long will you stay off the tour?”
“I don’t know how long the break will last, because I don’t want to torture myself and my body anymore. At the beginning of the season I didn’t have any pain or any other problems. But, as soon as I started playing regularly, it all came back. It seems like you’re starting to play better, but then the next day it’s impossible to even turn around. It’s tiring in training to hear the same question from your coach every five minutes: ‘How’s your back? Can you do this exercise?’ I feel trapped on court, because I’m afraid to make any sudden movements. I’m tired of fighting. I want to forget this torture soon.”
“So you won’t even be doing light training?”
“No. Right now I can’t do anything related to tennis. When I can bend over and make sudden movements without thinking about pain, that will be the first sign that I can start training.”
“Is there a particular time you’d like to return to the tour?”
“It doesn’t matter to me when it happens—in the summer during the American tournaments, at the end of the season, or even next year. I want to take as much time to recover as I need, so that I don’t have to think about my back until the end of my career.”
Normally, I'd leave it at that. But people have been hounding me all day for my thoughts on the sitch, so here are my two schillings:
First of all, THANK GOD. It was painfully uncomfortable watching her compete on that back, knowing that it would almost assuredly give out at any moment. Backs don't just heal. You can't just ice them and do some weird voodoo acupuncture mumbo-jumbo and wake up 100%. Unlike limbs, which can be isolated and rested while the rest of the body can continue to work out and get fit, you literally cannot move your body at all without somehow incorporating your back. So this idea of "playing through" a back injury or "letting it heal" while still working out is complete bollocks.
So rest up, do some PT, and get your back to 110%. As anyone who watches Dinara knows, she needs every ounce of strength, coordination, and trust in her body to pull off her game. Anything less and...well...we know what it looks like.
Second, look, let's get real. I understand that Dinara's comments imply that she intends to come back. She might. But she also might not. That's just the reality of a severe back injury, which is what Dinara suffered. We may never see Dinara Safina compete ever again. To the extent that is a reality, I have some additional thoughts.
I get sad when I think about Dinara. And then I get sad that I get sad. Why? Because I realize that all the negative press she's received over the past two years actually had an effect me. All the "Slamless #1", "undeserving #1", and "big match choker" chatter totally crept into my tiny brain, convincing me on some level that Dinara was somehow a disappointment. That she underachieved. That we should look at her and think that something was missing. That she was less than.
But then I pull myself out of that morass of idiocy and realize that Dinara was actually an *overachiever*. No one, not a single person prior to 2008 thought that the chubby, grunting, kid sister of ultra-talented Marat would ever be a threat, let alone an Olympic medalist, multiple Grand Slam finalist, or world #1. No fucking way. Sure, she had fans back then, but really, did you really really think her career would be as successful as it was? If so, I'd like to talk to you about some lottery tickets.
Dinara is a testament to commitment, desire, and work-ethic. She worked SO HARD. All you had to do was watch her practice for 15 minutes and you could see that she worked harder than anyone. She practiced and played with a sense of desperation. She wanted it SO MUCH. Were those things probably what got her into this mess with her back? Probably. But isn't that what happens with everyone? That our strengths are also our weaknesses? Let's not pretend that she's any different.
From the perspective of a tennis fan, I hope her back heals up and she's able to work her way back into relevancy on the tour. But from the perspective of a Dinara fan, I have to be honest. I'm kind of ok with her calling it a day.
(Pic: Forty Deuce)