In May, during the Storm's media day, Tina Thompson was asked what's new. She paused for a long time before saying she'd like to learn to...

In May, during the Storm’s media day, Tina Thompson was asked what’s new.

She paused for a long time before saying she’d like to learn to play tennis. She also likes to golf, but doesn’t have time. And, oh, she’d like to learn to sew more than the drapes she stitched for her home in Houston.

As training camp wore on and her 17th WNBA season began, it was becoming clear to her. It was time to retire and make time for other interests.

On Friday, Thompson, 38, announced that this season will be her last.

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The 6-foot-2 forward is the only active player left from the league’s inaugural season in 1997. A former USC star, she was the original No. 1 overall pick, drafted by the defunct Houston Comets. She joined stars Sheryl Swoopes and Cynthia Cooper to win four consecutive WNBA championships with the Comets.

“It has been a great ride,” Thompson said in a news release.

Fellow players admire her longevity and work ethic. Thompson missed just 19 games in 2005 after giving birth to her son Dyllan. She averaged 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds as Houston went 19-15 before losing to Sacramento in the Western Conference Finals.

Thompson will leave as the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer. She has 7,018 points going into the Storm’s (0-1) home opener at KeyArena on Sunday against Phoenix (0-1).

When she is eventually inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Thompson will go in as a Comet. She played for Houston for 12 seasons. She signed with Los Angeles after the Comets, a charter franchise, abruptly disbanded in 2008.

She joined the Storm in 2012, hoping to win a fifth WNBA championship. But an injury-riddled season ended in a first-round loss to Minnesota in the opening round of the playoffs.

Thompson said she contemplated breaking the contract and retiring in the offseason, when Storm All-Stars Sue Bird (knee) and Lauren Jackson (hamstring) announced they wouldn’t play due to surgeries. Thompson was a reserve in 2012, a first in her storied career, and didn’t know if she could again be a focal point of a team.

“I have experienced things I could never have imagined or dreamed of,” she said of her pro career. “I have an 8-year-old son and I am so thankful that Dyllan has been able to grow up in and share this journey with me. It has truly been a blessing and I am grateful for the experiences, both good and not so good. Those experiences have helped shape me into the woman I am today, the woman I am very proud to be.”

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or On Twitter @JaydaEvans.