Maria Sharapova has revealed in a long, heartfelt letter that she has retired from tennis aged 32 due to long-term injury struggles.
The Russian ace burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old when she won Wimbledon in 2004, just the third tournament win of her career.
She went on to win the Australian Open and the US Open once, as well as the French Open twice, with her total career titles tallying up to an impressive 36.
She wrote for Vogue and Vanity Fair: “How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known? How do you walk away from the courts you’ve trained on since you were a little girl, the game that you love—one which brought you untold tears and unspeakable joys—a sport where you found a family, along with fans who rallied behind you for more than 28 years?
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“I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis — I’m saying goodbye.”
Detailing exactly why she has come to this decision, Sharapova admits that injuries have gotten the better of her over the years, with shoulder surgeries limiting her involvement on court and her form.
“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.
“Listening to this voice so intimately, anticipating its every ebb and flow, is also how I accepted those final signals when they came.
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“One of them came last August at the U.S. Open.
“Behind closed doors, thirty minutes before taking the court, I had a procedure to numb my shoulder to get through the match.
“Shoulder injuries are nothing new for me—over time my tendons have frayed like a string.
“I’ve had multiple surgeries—once in 2008; another procedure last year—and spent countless months in physical therapy. Just stepping onto the court that day felt like a final victory, when of course it should have been merely the first step toward victory.
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“I share this not to garner pity, but to paint my new reality: My body had become a distraction.”
“Tennis showed me the world—and it showed me what I was made of. It’s how I tested myself and how I measured my growth.
“And so in whatever I might choose for my next chapter, my next mountain, I’ll still be pushing. I’ll still be climbing. I’ll still be growing.”
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