ATP Tour Official Tournament

Winston-Salem’s first and beloved champion announces retirement from professional tennis

24 August 2023 By Robin Lindner
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Greensboro, N.C. native John Isner announced Wednesday evening on social media that the 2023 U.S. Open will be the final event in his professional career.


“There comes a time in every athlete’s career that they have to decide to hang it up, and for me that time is now. I didn’t come to this decision lightly, but I feel this is the right way to go,” Isner said in his post.


Among a list of accolades, he holds 16 ATP Tour titles, and two of them came at the Winston-Salem Open. At 26 years old in 2011, Isner became the first champion in the tournament’s inaugural year. In 2012, he returned and defended his title and remains the only man to have ever done so.


“The Winston-Salem Open is his home tournament in many respects, and he helped to get it off the ground. He gave it some notoriety with winning that first year that maybe another player wouldn’t have garnered,” says Tournament Director Jeff Ryan.


Ryan has a long history with Isner thanks to their work together through the United States Tennis Association on Davis Cup ties, an international competition between countries.


“I keep thinking about that first time he played on the Davis Cup team for the U.S. I just remember the comradery and how much those guys enjoyed competing together. John and Jack [Sock] thought, for years, that I was the mascot, Ace the Eagle, and I just remember finally putting the costume on one year and standing beside the practice court giving them a hard time,” he said fondly.


“When he looks back on his career, he certainly has a lot to be proud of,” Ryan added.


Isner is the all-time ace leader by a wide margin with 14,411 to his name. No other player has hit the 14,000 mark, according to Infosys ATP stats, and only four have reached the 10,000 milestone.


The 38-year-old finished in the top 20 for 10 consecutive years from 2010-2019, reaching a career high of No. 8 in 2018 and amassing 488 wins at the Tour-level.


He will hope to pick up at least one more in New York before he waves goodbye to fans for one final time in Flushing Meadows, but Ryan says we haven’t seen the last of Isner.


“He gave a lot to the game, and I think he’ll continue to give back.”