TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Kimiko Date has no immediate plans to turn to tennis coaching but is keen to contribute in some other way to the sport she quit last month, the 46-year-old said.
The former world number four retired for good after her first round loss in the Japan Women’s Open two weeks before her 47th birthday, ending a career that began in 1988, included eight WTA title wins and a comeback after a 12-year hiatus.
“Am I going to be coaching? This topic has come up numerous times, even before I decided to retire. Being an athlete, I’ve experienced firsthand and know what a tough job being a coach is,” Date was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency.
“If I were to coach, I would have to learn a lot because playing is different from describing how to play to other people. At this point, coaching is not part of my future plans,” added the player who has mentored the likes of Kurumi Nara, Risa Ozaki and Nao Hibino.
“So if not coaching, what do I want to do? When I look at Japan, the environment for the sport of tennis is not perfect,” she added.
“The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are coming up (in 2020) so I believe the world of sports will change going forward, but it’s not just about the Olympics.
“We have Kei Nishikori, who is one of the iconic men’s players and one pillar in tennis right now, but I want tennis to be much more deeply rooted in Japan, so that it isn’t just a tentative thing but a long-term established sport.”
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O'Brien