Justine Henin, one of the top five or six most complete tennis players of all time — male or female — decided to retire today while still ranked as the number one female player in the world. Though she has won only seven grand slam titles in her career, I believe her game had no weaknesses whatsoever, thus putting her in elite company with Steffi Graf, Pete Sampras, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Roger Federer. Her retirement comes at a time when she still could have competed at the highest level in grand slams. How many she could have won is an unknown, but at least three or four in my opinion.

She was tired. It was as simple as that. There is much more in life than tennis according to her press conference today.

With respect to the market, I suspect we all will ultimately face the day when we decide to stop competing, and most of us will do it at different times and for different reasons - burnouts, setbacks, age, success, or death. As for me, I have quit the trade a few times for a few of these reasons, and also was almost out of the game for the last of these. But, I continue to trade on.

Henin chose the high road, one marked with tremendous success. I hope my end, and all of yours, will be similar.

Vince Fulco adds:

Speaking of "When to Quit," picked up Professor Randy Pausch's book "The Last Lecture" while on vacation last week. He was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who surprised his class by giving a lecture on realizing one's childhood dreams. All those in attendance realized it would be his last public presentation due to his advancing and inoperable pancreatic cancer at age 47. While written in a breezy "Tuesdays with Morrie" style, his heart-wrenching and impactful life stories with a moral attached to each are poignant reminders of our finite time on this planet and the need to strip away the superfluous and focus acutely on one's chosen task at hand. Of course, while not forgetting the importance of cultivating strong families, relationships with work colleagues and friends.

The lecture is available online.

A great summer read written by a genuine straight arrow.

Nigel Davies responds:

There may be a difference between quitting and moving on. Quitting, at least in my book, means a total discontinuation of a particular activity with a huge loss on the time/money invested. 'Moving on' is different, you keep the accumulated 'wealth' (skills, lessons, experience, money) and subtly redirect it within the context of your life.

Perhaps we should always try to move on rather than quit, just change the balance rather than go in with major surgery. I think this applies to all walks of life; professions, sports, games and relationships. And it may be better for trading too, readjusting positions within shades of grey rather than opting for black or white.

This line of reasoning also makes me wonder if we should always look for things in life that will have ongoing value rather than face the expense of multiple 'quits'. This may be a useful guide in everything we do, and I only wish I'd thought of it earlier.





Speak your mind

3 Comments so far

  1. steve leslie on May 15, 2008 10:04 am

    Perhaps the most disappointing thing in sports is watching the great champions hang around too long in a game that they love too much to give up.

    I think of Willie Mays hobbling around in the outfield of Shea stadium on damaged knees and ruined joints barely able to lace up his own shoes. Babe Ruth staying for perhaps one and probably two seasons too long to be effective in the lineup with the Bronx Bombers and finishing his career by being traded to the Boston Braves.

    Joe Namath and Dan Marino, two of the most exciting and talented quarterbacks to ever play the game, struggling with bad knees and destroyed legs.

    Bobby Orr, unable to get up and down the ice because of crippled knees.

    Michael Jordan no longer AIR JORDAN and long past his prime attempting a comeback with the Washington Wizards and playing alongside new age players who care more about a paycheck than a championship. Larry Bird unable to sit in a chair courtside because of an arthritic back.

    No sport lends itself to greater physical abuse that boxing. The ’sweet science” has a very long list of past champions who just could never quite give up the glory and the glamour, the adulation and the adornment. There is a magical and mystical effect it has on the psyche to be called champion of the world.

    Sugar Ray Robinson, generally considered pound-for-pound the greatest champion, fighting to stave off bankruptcy instead of titles. Joe Louis getting pounded and then knocked out by Rocky Marciano and hearing that Rocky cried afterward because he beat up his idol. Joe later went on to be a greeter at casinos in Las Vegas. “Iron Mike” Tyson as terrifying and brutal a fighter the sport has ever seen, being outclassed and outboxed by nearly everyone he fought since his rape conviction and incarceration in Indiana for three years.

    And lest we forget “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali. The most recognizable and beloved athlete the world has ever seen. From main street America to Sub Saharen tribesman to the further most stretches of the planet he was embraced by billions of people. Yet at the end of his career he lost his belt to Leon Spinks in 1978 then in a futile attempt to regain the title gets knocked out by Larry Holmes. He tried one final comeback against Trevor Berbick before hanging up the gloves for good. He is now a horribly broken man ravaged by Parkinsons disease largely attributed to his punishment he withstood in the ring.

    There is an old saying in boxing about fighters: They see the punch coming, they just can’t get out of the way.

    Steve Leslie

  2. Gregory Rehmke on May 15, 2008 10:33 am

    Speaking of last lectures…. Paul Heyne’s last lecture is here:

    This was for a “Last Lecture” series at the University of Washington, with professors to give a talk as if it was their final talk. And for Paul, it was. He died of cancer a couple months later. (The first few seconds run too fast, but it slows down soon):

  3. Mulholland Drive Street Racer on May 16, 2008 8:21 pm

    Tough Broad:

    Hillary will then enter the ‘08 US Presidential campaign as a 3rd Party Independent candidate.


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