Singapore - Italy's reigning US Open champion Flavia Pennetta said losing to Maria Sharapova at the WTA Finals in Singapore was the "perfect" way to end her late-blooming career on Thursday.
The 33-year-old world number eight announced her retirement at the end of this season just moments after becoming the oldest first-time Grand Slam winner in the Open era last month.
Despite the US Open title, Pennetta had to compete for more points to make her debut appearance at the elite, eight-player season finale.
"It's perfect to lose against her," Pennetta said after her 7-5, 6-1 defeat to Russia's Sharapova, who is back in convincing form after months out with injury.
"I don't know. I feel really good. I'm happy to have the chance to play this tournament. I think to have the last match against Maria was amazing," she said.
Pennetta, who turned professional in 2000, has 11 singles and 17 doubles titles to her name with career earnings of almost $14 million before Singapore.
Pennetta left the court without fanfare but she was cheerful when she met journalists after the match.
"Right now I feel like it's not my last match. I feel normal completely. I don't know why. Maybe in few days I will feel more the difference. Right now it's so far so good," she said to laughter.
But she admitted that lingering on court after her loss would have been emotional.
"I don't like drama and I don't like to cry, and I know if I was there I will cry. So why? No."
Pennetta said that after 15 years of professional tennis, she will miss the players who make the tour "like a family".
"I think also I will miss the competition. When you go on the court, the central court, it's something special," Pennetta added.
"But in the other way, I am really happy to start a new part of life, new things," said the girlfriend of men's world number 10 and fellow Italian Fabio Fognini.