Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova announces her retirement from tennis in an emotional essay in Vanity Fair – three years after coming back from a drugs ban
- Maria Sharapova has confirmed that she will retire from tennis at the age of 32
- The five-time Grand Slam winner penned an emotional essay in Vanity Fair
- In it, Sharapova reveals her ‘body has become a distraction’ due to her injuries
- The decision to retire comes three years after her return following a drugs ban
Maria Sharapova has given up the uneven struggle against injury and announced she has finished with tennis at the age of 32 in an emotional open letter in Vanity Fair.
After a career that yielded five Grand Slam titles, hundreds of millions of earnings and a reputation that became severely tarnished, she revealed her retirement through the pages of the magazine.
She will be remembered for her major wins, her relentless baseline hitting delivered with a piercing shriek and the failing a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open.
The 32-year-old Russian said: ‘I’m new to this, so please forgive me.
‘Tennis — I’m saying goodbye. I share this not to garner pity, but to paint my new reality: My body had become a distraction.
Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova celebrates winning Wimbledon in 2004
Sharapova became a superstar early in her career having claimed the Wimbledon title aged 17
Sharapova (middle), with her mother Yelena (left) and father Yuri (right), moved from Nyagan, Russia, to the United States at the age of six to help progress her tennis career in Florida
‘Throughout my career, Is it worth it? was never even a question — in the end, it always was.’
On Instagram, accompanying a photo of her as a young child on the tennis court, she added: ‘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.’
Career high ranking: No 1
Current ranking: No 373
Career prize money: £30million
Total wins: 645
Total defeats: 171
Total number of titles: 36
Grand Slam titles: Wimbledon (2004), US Open (2006), Australian Open (2008), French Open (2012, 2014)
She burst to prominence by winning the 2004 Wimbledon final as a 17-year-old against Serena Williams, who was to become a bitter rival, even though the American ended up with a crushingly superior head-to-head record in their encounters.
The Russian was taken by her father to Florida as a child to hone her tennis game.
Nick Bollettieri was the man who created the idea of a tennis boarding school and he played a key role in Sharapova’s development into a future Grand Slam champion.
Andre Agassi, Venus and Serena Williams and Martina Hingis all worked under Bollettieri to develop their game.
The move to the United States was to make the most of her ability and the facilities in Florida even turned her into a French Open champion, despite being no natural on the clay courts.
Sharapova announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 32 on Wednesday afternoon
She followed up her announcement with a picture of her as a young player playing tennis
The Russian drops to her knees after clinching her first ever Grand Slam title at Wimbledon
Part of her decision was that she admits her ‘body has become a distraction’ with injury
Happy to admit that she saw her peers as competitors rather than friends, she became known for her aloof attitude in the locker room.
There was little sympathy from fellow players, therefore, when she tested positive for newly-outlawed Meldonium after making the quarter finals in Melbourne four years ago.
She was to serve a 15-month ban and the record will show that she was never the same player without the assistance of the banned substance, failing to make the top 20 after her return in April 2017.
Sharapova has been a prominent figure off the court as well as on it, enjoying high-profile relationships.
She dated Marron 5 singer Adam Levine in 2005 before later dating former Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Sasha Vujacic.
Repeat shoulder issues, a long-standing problem, were among the injuries that plagued her and with a plummeting ranking she has decided to call it a day.
She admitted that her 6-1, 6-1 humbling to Serena Williams at the 2019 US Open was the ‘final signal’ it was time to retire.
Her success since moving to Florida translated into youth tournaments as she posed for photos in 2002 having finished as runner up in the girls singles event at the Australian Open
Titles followed as a professional and she wore a wide smile as she lifted the 2006 US Open singles trophy (left) and then showed her growth on clay by winning two French Open’s (right)
Sharapova speaks out at a press conference after testing positive for meldonium in 2016
‘Behind closed doors, 30 minutes before taking the court, I had a procedure to numb my shoulder to get through the match,’ she added.
‘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 on to the court that day felt like a final victory, when of course it should have been merely the first step toward victory.’
Her last appearance at a Grand Slam saw her exit in the first round of the Australian Open, losing to Donna Vekic, and that ensured her ranking dropped to 373 in the world.
She has played only twice in 2019, including that loss to Vekic in Melbourne.
And for the former world No 1, her persistent shoulder injuries, and struggles to go deep into major tournaments, has pushed her to call time on her tennis career.
Her final match at a Grand Slam came in a straight sets defeat to Donna Vekic in Australia
Business is a key part of her focus off the court as she shows off her ‘Beauty & Power’ fragrance
Focus in life after tennis will be on confectionery company, Sugarpova, which she set up in 2012 having already grown concerned that injuries cut see her sporting career ended early
Part of Sharapova’s focus will now turn to business and managing her successful confectionery company, Sugarpova. The company was set up in 2012 and has become hugely successful.
Her fragrance company ‘Maria Sharapova Beauty & Power’ is another lucrative area of her growing business portfolio.
In 2018, Forbes estimated that Sharapova’s business empire was worth $195m (£151m).
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