Philippe Signoret

“First of all, I would have to admit that Raneem’s retirement was and wasn’t a surprise. But it was extremely hard to read her social media post and when I spoke to her, I told her it was the end of an era.

“I have known Raneem from when she was a kid back in the under-13s which was the beginning of my international coaching career, so I have coached Camille against her many, many times and so, I must be honest, Raneem helped me to improve a lot as a coach.

“But the COVID-19 pandemic period has been difficult and perhaps has provided a period of reflection for everybody, and I think that includes Raneem. When you have won everything, you are happily married, you are a woman and you are 31, then I guess it is not surprising after all, especially as it is clear Raneem and Tarek wish to start a family.

“In terms of Raneem’s quality as a player then you can see with the numerous glowing posts how special a player she was. But for me there have been two Raneems.

The first one was talented but very irregular in her motivational attitude. The second one was also talented but so much more consistent. Reflecting on all of that right now it’s like every part of her was made to become a great World Champion.

“Yet I must also mention her legendary behaviour on and outside the court.

Raneem had so much respect for Camille and for me as the coach of her rival and you could see that in her eyes after a loss or victory. Truly Raneem was a very special squash player, a great champion but perhaps an even more special human being and her retirement is a huge loss for the ladies games and one that, I admit, left me with a tear in my eye.”

“Really, apart from the extreme sadness of Raneem’s absence, I think that the dynamic at the top of the game will not be affected. We are lucky with numerous players who improve regularly all playing with different styles and different approaches and the women’s game is full of colour right now.

“I also expect Egypt to continue to be the dominant nation. In Egypt you can lose one player and find 10. Seriously though we can see at the last Platinum event in Egypt that Hania will be a serious contender for the Platinum titles and some others like Rowan Elaraby and Nadine Shahin are also on their way through behind her.

“So, I don’t like to think that it is an advantage that Raneem has retired in this respect. It’s life and the top players must work on their game like before to become the next player who will dominate the ranking.

“But for me the women’s game is in a fantastic place and it’s not finished growing. All the areas of the game can improve more and all the aspects of the game too. I am amazed by the level we can see in the most competitive matches, the physical abilities, skilfulness, passion, all this is in the women’s game now and it just has such vibrancy.”