2018-09-18 16:00:00 CEST
The Brazilian star didn’t make a formal announcement... but she says she's not returning to the sand
She won’t tell you that, but don’t expect to see Larissa França back in the international beach volleyball scene anymore. The Brazilian star, who last competed internationally in the 2017 World Tour Finals, decided to take some time off back in January, when her partner Talita Antunes announced she was pregnant.
After almost eight months of reflection, the 36-year-old defender is still reluctant to use the word “retired” to define her current status, but it’s pretty evident that getting back on the sand is not part of her plans.
And that shouldn’t change any time in the future either.
“I’m not even thinking about returning,” she admitted to beachmajorseries.com. “The first time I retired, in 2012, I didn’t think I would come back and I ultimately did, so I understand why people keep wondering if I would make another comeback now. That’s why all I’m saying now when people ask me about my future is that I’m entirely focused on fulfilling my dream.”
And this dream is a very special one.
Married to Brazilian beach volleyball player Lili Maestrini since 2013, Larissa wants to have a baby and start their family. That was her goal when she first retired, in 2012, but the hopes of competing for a medal in the Rio 2016 Olympics brought her back to the game in 2014.
Now she’s determined to put her personal life in first place and it’s hard to envision a future return for a 36-year-old player who would have to stay sidelined for at least another entire season because of a potential pregnancy.
“My dream of having a baby was well-known and I just decided to postpone it to play with Talita,” she added. “Being a mom is a decision I made several years ago and now it’s time to realize it. I’m doing treatment to get pregnant and I’m very much looking forward to enjoy this special moment with Lili.”
"Dias de sol, só com você... Com direito a horas a mais E rimas iguais como eu e você." ❤️ #simplesassim #love
318 Likes, 12 Comments - Lili Maestrini França (@lili_maestrini) on Instagram: ""Dias de sol, só com você... Com direito a horas a mais E rimas iguais como eu e você." ❤️..."
Larissa’s decision to step away from the courts wasn’t challenged even by the imminent return of Talita, who’s expected to start training soon and should be back in the World Tour in 2019. Together, the Brazilians enjoyed an impressive run of form between 2014 and 2017, establishing the longest winning streak of the Beach Major Series – 25 victories – and claiming winning five golds, one silver and three bronzes in 12 events.
Their accomplishments as a team included a victory in the 2015 World Tour Finals and topping the World Tour rankings in 2017, their final season together, when they claimed bronze medals in both the World Championships and the World Tour Finals. Overall, they had won 16 golds, three silvers and three bronze medals in 36 tournaments.
“We’re always in touch, but we didn’t even discuss a reunion,” Larissa admitted. “We know how good we were together, but we both knew that at some point we’d want to stop playing to start our families. We ended our cycle together, Talita had her baby and now it’s time for me to go after my dream.”
Larissa goes down as one of the greatest players in beach volleyball history. A three-time Olympian, the Brazilian tops the list of winners of the World Tour, with 62 gold medals collected in the 151 international tournaments she played. She also amassed 23 silver and 20 bronze medals on her 15 seasons competing.
The Cachoeiro de Itapemirim-native is also the player with the most World Tour season titles, having won it eight times – seven with her long-time partner Juliana Felisberta and one with Talita. Her distinct resume also includes a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, a gold medal at the 2011 World Championships, back-to-back Pan-American titles in 2007 and 2011 and nine Brazilian Tour victories.
“It’s never easy to step away because I love playing beach volleyball,” she said. “But we need to know the right moment to pursue different things in our lives. The sport gave me a lot, including my wife, but it’s time for us to realize our dream. I see Talita happy with her baby and I think she really knew how to prioritize this moment, which is very special. The fact that I’m going after a very special dream myself makes it a little easier for me to walk away.”