Not only Kiki Bertens, but also her physiotherapist and husband are relieved that the Westland woman is putting an end to her tennis career after this season.

Remko de Rijke found it increasingly difficult to properly fulfill his role in the team as a physiotherapist due to his wife's Achilles tendon complaints.

"Of course I always wear two hats. That's why I'm honestly happy that I no longer have to push her and can just be a man. This is a relief for me," said De Rijke in Etten-Leur, shortly after Bertens had told the journalists present to stop after this season.

De Rijke experienced up close how Bertens struggled in recent times.

The former number four in the world had surgery on her Achilles tendon in the autumn of 2020 to get rid of the complaints, but after her return in March she regularly suffered a setback and missed the necessary tournaments.

As a result, the clay-court season, the favorite period of the year for Bertens, fell into the water.

The clay court specialist only played two games on her favorite surface in the run-up to Roland Garros, where she was unsurprisingly stranded in the first round.

"We have done everything we can to get the most out of the clay-court season, but it hasn't always been easy," emphasized De Rijke, just before summing up all of Bertens' physical setbacks in recent months.

"You have to imagine that she came from far and worked very hard. The last thing I want is for her to continue playing for me. She should have stopped two years ago. I am happy that she is now saying goodbye with her head held high. , otherwise she would really be selling herself short. I'm super proud of her."

Kiki Bertens had to deal with the after-effects of her Achilles tendon operation in recent months.

Kiki Bertens had to deal with the after-effects of her Achilles tendon operation in recent months.

Photo: Getty Images

Coach Tamaëla: 'It is an honor to do this last piece with her'

Bertens' coach Elise Tamaëla is also happy for her pupil that she has made the decision to stop after this season.

Like De Rijke, the former tennis player found it difficult to keep pushing Bertens in the past period, while she was sometimes simply not strong enough physically.

"It was super tough for us, but also for us. One day she was not in pain, but the next she was. Sometimes it was impossible to push that," said 37-year-old Tamaëla, who took over as coach at the end of 2019 by Raemon Shutter.

"I think it's really great that she has now made the decision to stop. This is really not easy to say when you are such a great athlete. I am happy for her and proud of what she has achieved."

Bertens will be in action in her last season at the grass tournament in Eastbourne, Wimbledon and the Olympic Games.

Then she checks whether her body can handle it to participate in the hard court tournaments in the United States, including the US Open.

Tamaëla can already see that a weight has been lifted from Bertens' shoulders.

"She is very happy that she can soon start a new chapter in her life. It is clear that she is very much looking forward to it. For me it is an honor to do this last piece with her."

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