1996 Wimbledon finalist MaliVai Washington retires

This wasn't the way MaliVai Washington planned to walk away from tennis.

This wasn't the way MaliVai Washington planned to walk away from tennis.

Washington, a Wimbledon finalist in 1996 who reached No 11 in the world rankings, retired on Friday from the ATP Tour. He ended his career because a 1997 knee injury has limited his activity the last three years.

"As an athlete, you want to go out on your own terms, but unfortunately I didn't have that opportunity," said Washington, who turned 30 in June. "You want to go out when you think it's time, not when you can't play because of pain that doesn't let you perform at the level you need to perform."

Seven months after reaching the Wimbledon final, Washington suffered a seemingly minor injury to his left knee during a Davis Cup victory over Gustavo Kuerten in Brazil, helping the United States team reach the quarter-finals.

However, the injury lingered, curtailing his season. He played just four more tournaments that spring and did not return until January 1998. The pain and restricted mobility persisted, limiting him to 10 events for the year.

Washington underwent additional surgery in November 1998, but was able to play just two tournaments this year, losing in the first round both times.

In his career, Washington won four titles and reached 13 ATP Tour finals. His best year was 1992, when he reached six finals and a career-high No 11 on the ATP Tour rankings.

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