After 13 years, 32 singles titles, including one Grand Slam, and a world No. 1 ranking, Andy Roddick announced on his 30th birthday Thursday that he is retiring from professional tennis after the 2012 US Open.
One of the most celebrated American male players, “A-Rod” was always known for his lightning-fast serve and powerful forehand. He held the record for fastest serve ever recorded on the ATP Tour at 155 mph, set on a hard court during the Davis Cup semifinals in Charleston, S.C., in September 2004. The record was broken in March 2011, when Ivo Karlovic hit a serve at 156 mph.
He remains the last U.S. man to win a Grand Slam title, which he recorded at the 2003 US Open, the same year he ascended to No. 1 in the world for the first time.
Roddick, currently ranked No. 22, has won two singles titles in 2012 at Atlanta and Eastbourne. He has struggled with injuries in recent years, including tearing a tendon in his hamstring earlier this year, which forced him to retire from his second-round match at the Australian Open, and an ankle injury shortly thereafter in San Jose. In 2011, he suffered injuries to both his oblique muscle and his shoulder, which forced him out of the French Open, among other tournaments. He finished the year ranked outside the top 10 for the first time since 2001.
Roddick, originally from Omaha, Neb., lived in Austin, Texas, his current residence, for much of his childhood before moving to Boca Raton, Fla., where he played high school basketball with fellow American and close friend Mardy Fish. The two lived and trained together in 1999.
He has been heralded since he was a junior player, ascending to the world No. 1 boys' ranking and winning both the US Open and Australian Open boys’ singles titles in 2000. He played his first professional match, a Futures tournament, in 1999 and turned pro in 2000, earning his first ATP Tour win in Miami that year by beating then-world No. 41 Fernando Vicente of Spain.
Besides bringing the power on every shot, Roddick was known for his passion for the game and occasionally for his temper and various outbursts on the court. Off the court, he is known for his philanthropy through the Andy Roddick Foundation, as well as his good looks, having been featured as one of People Magazine’s ‘Sexiest Men Alive’ in 2006. Roddick, who became just the second tennis player to host Saturday Night Live in 2003, married Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and actress Brooklyn Decker in April 2009.
Always eager to represent his country, Roddick retires as one of the greatest players in U.S. Davis Cup history. For years, he was the “closer” -- the one looked upon to lead the team and come through whenever it ended a victory. He led the team to its last Davis Cup title in 2007, going undefeated in five Davis Cup matches throughout the year. Roddick now leaves the game with 33 Davis Cup singles victories, second all-time in U.S. Davis Cup team history to John McEnroe, dating from 2001-10.
Roddick always referred to the US Open as one of his favorite tournaments, speaking of the event as a combination of both sports and entertainment and saying he felt privileged to be able to spend his birthday at the tournament each year. Besides his 2003 win, he also was the runner-up to Roger Federer in 2006, one of four other Grand Slam finals he played during his career, losing to Federer each time at Wimbledon in 2004, 2005 and 2009. The most memorable Grand Slam final was at 2009 Wimbledon, an extremely well-played match and serve-fest between him and his longtime rival. Federer clinched with his only break of Roddick in the match and then a hold to win 5–7, 7–6, 7–6, 3–6, 16–14.
Roddick seemed to be saying goodbye to the crowd he loved at the All England Club, where he always had dreamed of winning the title, when he lost to world No. 5 David Ferrer in the third round, waving and blowing kisses as he left the court and bringing speculation that perhaps it was his last time there.
And it turned out it was, at least as a competitor. Roddick will say goodbye to the crowd in Flushing Meadows sometime in the next week and a half, as well, and next faces Bernard Tomic in the second round Friday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Whether he ends on a win or a loss, he will never be forgotten.