Malaysian squash great Nicol David has announced she will retire from the sport at the end of the current season.
David has earned numerous honours since making her international debut in 1996, when she won the British junior under-14 title as a 12-year-old.
She became the first player to win two world junior titles in 2001, before going on to accumulate a record eight senior individual world titles.
David has also won four medals at the Commonwealth Games, including women’s singles gold medals at Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014.
Her triumph in the singles event at Jakarta Palembang 2018 brought David a seventh Asian Games gold medal of her career, while she has also won three titles at the World Games.
In 2015, David established a record 109-month unbroken run as world number one.
The 35-year-old has won a total of 81 Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Tour titles in her career to date, having appeared in 102 finals.
"After more than 20 years playing squash for Malaysia, competing on the professional tour and achieving the utmost best from my career being the only Malaysian athlete to achieve these accolades and to be recognised as the greatest female squash athlete of all time by my peers, I can proudly say that I am ready and happy to announce my retirement at the end of this seasonal tour,” David said.
"This is a moment that every athlete must go through - to explore fully on what more there is in store for them. I am now at this point in my life, ready to take on more beyond the pro tour.
"This decision has been thought through for quite some time and I do know this is my last season.
“My mind and body have battled it out to stay at the very top of my game for such a long time that I feel that I only have this last big push left for the final season to give it all I have before I enter the next phase of my life.
"I love squash with all my heart, and it will always play an important role in my life.”
David has expressed her intention to join the PSA to work with the organisation to raise awareness of the sport globally and build a support team for professional squash athletes.
She also declared her aim to empower girls through the Nicol David Foundation, as well as sharing her story to the Malaysian public through a series of talks and writing.
"This is just the initial start of more exciting things planned and I cannot wait to venture into this next phase with all of you after my squash on tour,” David said.
"Throughout these next few months till the end of the seasonal tour in June, I will be sharing through my 'The Dream Remains' campaign, everything that my life in squash has given me.
"I would like to enjoy my last few tournaments together with everyone through this campaign in the hopes of giving all a chance to have their own dreams to go forth the way I plan to keep striving for."
The PSA have paid tribute to David, highlighting how she was voted the greatest female squash player of all time by fans in a poll conducted by the organisation last year.
“Nicol is undoubtedly one of the greatest squash players of all time and her presence on the tour will be sorely missed,” said Alex Gough, PSA chief executive.
“She has inspired a generation of Malaysian players and will go down in history as one of the most iconic figures ever to pick up a squash racket.
“Nicol has always displayed an exemplary level of professionalism both on and off court and everyone at the PSA wishes her nothing but the best for the future.”
David is due to compete at the World Championships for the final time this month, with the competition at Chicago’s Union Station set to begin on Saturday (February 23).
Her final tournament will either be the British Open in Hull in May or the PSA World Tours Finals in June, should she qualify.
David was inducted into the World Squash Federation (WSF) Hall of Fame in 2011 and the organisation have joined in the tributes to the Malaysian star.
"Nicol's playing record speaks for itself, she had already become a legend several years ago,” said Andrew Shelley, WSF chief executive.
“Her results have been very special, but so is she.
"I can well remember trying to manoeuvre the winner and runner up of the British Junior Open under 14 event in 1997 into standing and smiling for a presentation photograph.
“The winner was Nicol, the runner up Omneya Abdel Kawy - and yes, at that time the girls hadn't got to grips with smiling.
"Since then Nicol has not only developed a smile, but grew from girl into woman with such a warm and winning personality that has marked her as special both on and off court.
"It has been a privilege of mine to have watched her blossom in both respects.”