(CNN) -- Reigning Olympic champion and world number nine Elena Dementieva announced her retirement from tennis after being knocked out of the WTA Championships in Doha.
The Russian revealed her decision to a surprised crowd in Qatar after losing 6-4 6-2 to Italian Francesca Schiavone in the season-ending tournament.
During her 12-year career Dementieva won gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, reached number three in the world and lost in two Grand Slam finals -- the French Open and the U.S. Open -- in 2004.
"This year in Doha was very special for me because it was my last tournament," Dementieva told the crowd.
"It has been a big honor to be a part of the tour for such a long time. I'd like to thank all the people from the WTA - it was so nice to get to know all of you and work with you for so many years. I'm going to miss you so much.
"Thanks to all the players for the amazing experiences, all the years I spent on the court with you. And thanks to all the people around the world for supporting me, and my fan club, I could feel your support no matter where I was in the world. Thank you for your devotion.
"Most importantly, thanks to my family, especially my mum. You've been very supportive, encouraging, inspiring.
"You were always there for me. It was a long way and we did it together. I love you mum. It's so emotional. It's hard to say goodbye."
Dementieva won 16 titles during her time on the women's tour and reached another 16 finals, winning just short of $14 million in prize money.
She broke into the top 20 for the first time in September 2000 and spent 328 weeks inside the top ten.
Her biggest achievement came at the Beijing Olympics of 2008 when she beat Serena Williams, Vera Zvonareva and Dinara Safina on her way to the gold medal.
One of her most memorable matches also served as her last at Wimbledon, when she was beaten 6-7 7-5 8-6 by Serena Williams in an epic 2009 semifinal.
Dementieva also won six doubles titles, including the WTA Championships in 2002 with Janette Husarova, and reached another seven finals.
"Elena has been a champion and consummate professional on and off the court throughout her career," said WTA chairman Stacey Allaster.
"She has also been a catalyst for the growth of the sport in Russia and around the world. We will miss her and wish her the best of luck."