Home  »  Top Players   »  

Petrissa SOLJA announces her retirement

Petrissa SOLJA announces retirement.

On 22, December 2022, Petrissa SOLJA announced her retirement.
“For me, it was the perfect career”, she confirmed.

Petrissa SOLJA retired at 28 years old

At age 28, Petrissa SOLJA is giving up professional table tennis. It’s the end of a picture-perfect career, but, as she makes clear, it’s not a sudden retirement. The step was well thought out, and the choice was made after many weeks. After 51 games for Germany’s national team, she is done with the national team and the Bundesliga.

Petrissa SOLJA (1)
Petrissa SOLJA (1)

“Peti” SOLJA was a vital part of the German national team for ten years. In 2016, she won silver at the Olympics with her team. In 2017 and 2019, she won bronze in the mixed event at the World Cup. In 2015, at the prestigious World Cup in Japan, she came in third. She won three gold medals at the European Games, twice won the Europe Top 16, and twice made it to the final. Six of her eight medals from the European Championships are gold. At the 2020/21 continental championships in Warsaw, she won the well-deserved individual title. She had already won everything there was to win as a junior in Germany and Europe before becoming the German individual champion in 2015.

One of the best European female players

She was one of the few Europeans who could even be a threat to the best Chinese players. The lefty’s great feel for the ball, great understanding of the game, and perfect technique, along with her great fighting spirit, made fans very happy. In 2015, for example, “the backhand boss” literally ran from table to table at the German Open and made it to the final of three competitions: U21 singles, women’s doubles, and singles. She ended up with two titles. She played a total of 15 matches in the Bremen Arena and won 14.

Her last international event was the WTT Champions Tournament in Hungary in July. She couldn’t go to the European Championships in her home country of Germany in August because an old injury to her intervertebral disc had come back. She says that during the required break, she had a lot of time to think. And after 25 years of playing the fastest racket sport on the planet, she finally realized that “I had no desire to play table tennis at all. Now I’m ready for something different”.

The reason of retirement

She confirmed that “I had no desire to play table tennis at all. Now I’m ready for something different”.

She said,

“I am leaving my job. I’m very happy and excited for the next step in my life. It took me a long time to come to this decision. It was not a decision made on the spur of the moment. I’ve been playing table tennis for as long as I can remember. In the oldest picture of me playing table tennis, I am 1.5 years old. When I was three, I had to stand on my tiptoes to see over the table. I was finally tall enough when I was five years old.
I won the German U15 girls singles title for the first time when I was twelve, without losing a single game. I started playing in the 1st Bundesliga when I was 14 years old. For me, it just kept going up.

I always did my work carefully and from the bottom of my heart. But now that I’ve listened to my heart, I know I need a big change. I no longer play for my country or in the Bundesliga. I’ve always been the same person. Either I do one thing completely, or I don’t do it at all.
I have done everything I can in sports, and sometimes even things that aren’t possible. I have won medals at the Olympic Games, the European Games, the World Championships, the World Cup, the Europe Top 16, the German National Championships, and most recently, the European Championships for women’s singles. I’ve also won the national club championships more than once and the Champions League three times. My collection is now complete. Retakes are what could still happen at this point.”

Lifelong success

Since I was a kid, my career has grown step by step. I did have big dreams, but I tried to get there by taking small steps. I know that I have a lot of potential and can be very successful. But the first step is the most important.

When did I do something I will never forget? There were so many lovely times. Many people will find it strange, but when I ask myself this question, the first thing that comes to mind is the day I won the German Championship in women’s singles.

I never thought about becoming an Olympic or World Champion when I was a little girl. As a young player, I could relate to the German Championships much more.

It’s hard to get this title. Everything has to go right on this one weekend for the plan to work. When I won there, it was a great feeling. I was also very proud of the big, heavy trophy I won as the German U15 girls singles champion. It is still one of my most prized trophies.

In doubles and mixed doubles, I also had a lot of great memories with my teammates. I liked playing World Team Championships a lot. That tournament was my favorite because it was always so much fun. It was fun to compete with my team. With our national team, we always wanted to win a medal, but we were never the favorite. I did really well at World Team Championships, and I like to think back on the 2016 World Championships in Kuala Lumpur, for example. We beat Japan and South Korea by a huge margin.

I’m also thinking about the European Championships in Schwechat in 2013. I could play very well, but I was still young and had a lot to learn. Still, Sabine Winter and I were able to win both the doubles and team titles. We had won the doubles title at the German Open in Bremen the year before, so the hall was packed. I loved playing at home for our fans. I know I gave my best performances back then. I always fought for my life there, and I even beat a few Chinese players, as I did in Bremen in 2015. I hope that the current members of our national team can have moments like the ones I had at the German Open. That was incredible. Every German Open was great!

Medal with Fang Bo

At the 2019 World Championships, winning the bronze medal in mixed doubles with Patrick Franziska was a very special moment. Getting the gold medal with him at the European Games was another great moment. This helped us get one of the few spots in the mixed competition at the Olympic Games.

The European singles title I won in Warsaw in 2020 was an accomplishment I had been missing for a long time. I had already won a few gold medals in doubles and as part of a team. A big poster was made at my Bundesliga club in Langstadt. I still feel proud and happy when I look at it.
“17 years of practice led to a silver medal at the Rio Olympics”

When I think about my biggest achievements, I can’t help but think of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where we won the silver medal as a team. I’ll never forget how happy I was when we got the match ball in the semi-final against Japan. In an interview in 2016, after winning a silver medal at the Olympics in Rio, I said: “I have the silver medal in my hand today. Beforehand, 17 years were spent getting ready.
Sports competitions are very intense. Even when you are in school, you give up a lot. On my 18th birthday, the first person I saw was the doping control officer early in the morning.

Still, I thought it was perfect. Even though I didn’t have the same experiences as my peers when I was young, I got a lot of other things in return.
“I had the best job ever.”

I’ve always loved playing table tennis, but I realized more and more that it wasn’t my top priority anymore, that it wasn’t the most important thing in my life. Table tennis was always the most important thing to me. I put everything else behind the sport. I always had goals and wanted to get a lot done. I learned that there were other beautiful things in life at some point.

After taking a few months off, I realize that I had the perfect job. It’s time to make a change! At some point in their careers, most people take a new step. I’ve only ever played table tennis, and I learned it as a kid. I’ll always love playing table tennis. I knew I should go into competitive sports.
I started learning about business psychology in 2018. I am very interested in psychology. So far, my main focus has been on my table tennis career, but I’ve already finished a third of my schoolwork. Even though it’s not so fun to have to write 30 pages for a term paper, it’s fun to learn new things. I will keep getting credit points until I have enough to graduate.

I’m especially excited for the day when I can be at my friends’ birthday parties instead of being in the air or picking balls somewhere else in the world. I’m most looking forward to a lot of little things. “Thank you for my decision.”

Table tennis elite competition is tough

I didn’t know how the people around me would respond to my choice. In the end, it was nice to see and feel that everyone has been happy with what I’ve done so far. Everyone was shocked, but they were also very polite.

I am a very peace-loving person, but other feedback wouldn’t have changed my mind. So, it was important for me to end my career on a good note with people I respect a lot. If we see each other again, whether it’s at the DTTB, my club, the Bundeswehr (since I’m a military athlete), or a sponsor, I want us to look forward to it. This is very important to me on a personal level.

German team – the home of table tennis

After all, it was hard for me to leave my “table tennis family” because they were like my family. During my break, I missed the people more than I missed the sport. We shared many good times and grew as a group. I’m glad that sports let me meet so many great people.

“I’m glad to be done with competitive sports.”
I’m not fooling myself: I’m sure it will take me a few more days before I fully realize what big step I’ve taken. Sport has also taught me how to deal well with tough situations. Not only do we learn how to play forehand and backhand topspin, but we also learn how to deal with stressful situations. I can say with absolute certainty that it was the perfect job for me. I’m very pleased with myself.

I’m looking forward to life after sports and to getting to know new things. Through my sport, I’ve been able to set up a strong foundation for my future. I can try many different things. I do have a plan, but how it will work out is still up in the air. I’m looking forward to the next part of my life a lot. I want to thank everyone who has been with me on my journey so far from the bottom of my heart.”

©PINGSUNDAY. Unauthorized use, translation or duplication of this material is strictly prohibited. Link and excerpt may be used, provided that clear credit is given to PingSunday with the specific link to the original content.

Sign up and join +65k readers. Get free coaching ebooks and coaching advice every week

Table tennis coach in France since 2012, founder of pingsunday.com (the best online coaching program for table tennis players). Born in Vietnam in 1983, Ph.D. in Université Pierre Marie Curie. Read more about him.

Leave a Comment