Mary Lou Retton may not have won the Mirror Ball Trophy, but she’s leaving Dancing with the Stars having achieved a personal victory.
“This has been the time of my life,” Retton, 50, said on Monday after being eliminated.
During the reality dancing competition series’ sixth week of competition, Retton performed her final dance, a tango, with pro partner Sasha Farber. With just minutes left of the live Halloween episode, it was announced by co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews that Retton was in jeopardy alongside fellow competitor Alexis Ren — but it was the retired Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast who was sent home.
RELATED: Costumed Cuteness! See All the Adorable Halloween Outfits Worn by Kym Johnson Herjavec’s Twins
Although her time on the show came to an end, Retton is thankful for how the series pushed her in more ways than one.
“I hadn’t challenged myself in decades,” Retton admitted to Bergeron, “and I challenged myself and I’m off to a fresh start.”
On Monday’s episode, audiences learned that Retton went through one of the hardest moments of her life this year: a divorce after nearly three decades of marriage.
“I went through a divorce. People don’t know that. It’s the first time I’ve actually said it publicly,” she told Farber during rehearsal.
“After 27 years,” she continued about her now ex-husband, Shannon Kelley.
Mary Lou Retton and Shannon Kelley
Retton, who wed Kelley in 1990, said they finalized their divorce in February, “so it’s very new.”
She admitted that the separation “was hard.”
“I felt very alone,” she told Farber.
RELATED: Mary Lou Retton Divorces Husband Shannon Kelley After 27 Years of Marriage: ‘I Felt Very Alone’
Although their marriage came to an end, the athlete and her ex — they share daughters Shayla, 23, McKenna, 21, Skyla, 18, and Emma, 16 — are on good terms.
“It’s something that had really needed to happen for a long time,” she said. “We still love one another, but we weren’t great together anymore.”
In the months since Retton joined DWTS, she’s learned a great deal about ballroom dancing techniques — and about herself.
“When I walked in here, I knew I was starting over, and I was scared,” she told Farber. “But now, I know I’m starting over, but I’m excited.”
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.