Melbourne: Japan`s Kimiko Date-Krumm, at 41 the oldest player at the Australian Open, said she might continue playing until 50 after being bundled out of the year`s first grand slam Monday.
The former world number four became the second oldest player to compete in the Australian Open women`s singles in the Open era behind Beverly Rae, who was 44 when she played in 1974.
While Date-Krumm`s time was fleeting, overpowered in the first round 6-3, 6-2 by Greece`s Eleni Daniilidou, it had been worth it, she told reporters Monday.
"Even if I lost the first round, there are still so many people watching," Date-Krumm said with an ice-pack strapped to each leg.
Date-Krumm, who returned to tennis in 2008 after a 12-year break, had to play on the ITF tour to get the ranking points to return to Melbourne, where she also lost in the first round last year.
Going through the qualifying draw would not have been an option, said Date-Krumm, whose battle-weary legs would probably not be able to stand three matches in a row.
Daylight separates her from 34-year-old Tamarine Tanasugarn, the second oldest in the singles draw.
Thousands of miles separates her from her German husband Michael Krumm, who was racing in Dubai.
"Of course, it`s difficult for us, but he`s also an athlete so he knows how I feel," said Date-Krumm.
"So always he says to me you can continue as you want because it`s a special time, not for everybody, only a few people. In my case, not many at all," she laughed.
Date-Krumm once spoke of retirement after feeling exhausted following her tournament at the 2010 Asian Games in southern China.
But as long as she can scrape her way into the top 100 and not lose her competitive streak, she plans to be the grand old dame of grand slams for years to come.
"When I started (again) four years ago, I never thought I`d play these four years. I`ve already played four times this year, so I don`t know.
"If I`m tired, I`ll stop ... But I don`t know, maybe I`ll play until I`m 45 or 50!"
First Published: Monday, January 16, 2012, 11:44