Maria Sharapova, five-time Grand Slam winner and one of tennis’ most recognisable faces announced her retirement on Wednesday in a column for the Vanity Fair magazine.
The 32-year-old Russian ace burst onto the scene when she won Wimbledon at the age of 17 in 2004 beating Serena Williams, who was the heavy favourite, in the final. Sharapova and Williams shared a bitter rivalry since then with the latter enjoying a significant head-to-head record.
Sharapova wrote on her career: “One of the keys to my success was that I never looked back and I never looked forward.
“I believed that if I kept grinding and grinding, I could push myself to an incredible place. But there is no mastering tennis – you must simply keep heeding the demands of the court while trying to quiet those incessant thoughts in the back of your mind.”
Apart from the epic Wimbledon win, Sharapova won two French Open titles, one US Open and an Australian Open. She also took a silver in the 2012 Olympics, bagging as many as 36 WTA titles.
Sharapova’s final appearance came at the 2020 Australian Open, where she was knocked out by Donna Vekić in the first round.
‘Tennis gave me life’
Sharapova became world No 1 in 2005 and won the US Open the next year. “One of the keys to my success was that I never looked back and I never looked forward,” Sharapova said on Wednesday. “I believed that if I kept grinding and grinding, I could push myself to an incredible place.”
But in 2007 Sharapova began her long on-off battle with shoulder trouble. She would win the 2008 Australian Open before a second shoulder injury kept her off tour for the second half of the season, missing the US Open and Beijing Olympics.
In 2012, Sharapova captured the French Open to become the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam. She added Olympic silver to her resume that year. Her 2014 French Open title was another high after a dispiriting injury low.
More fitness troubles followed before the bombshell announcement of her positive test for the banned heart drug meldonium. Always a fighter the seven-year-old Maria and father Yuri left for the US in 1994 with just a borrowed $700 to their names – Sharapova returned to the sport in 2017.
“In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life,” Sharapova said in her retirement missive. “I’ll miss it everyday. I’ll miss the training and my daily routine: Waking up at dawn, lacing my left shoe before my right, and closing the court’s gate before I hit my first ball of the day.
“I’ll miss my team, my coaches. I’ll miss the moments sitting with my father on the practice court bench. The handshakes – win or lose – and the athletes, whether they knew it or not, who pushed me to be my best.
“Looking back now, I realize that tennis has been my mountain. My path has been filled with valleys and detours, but the views from its peak were incredible.”