Maria Sharapova has abruptly announced her retirement from tennis after nearly 19 years as a professional. In a lengthy article in Vanity Fair, the Russian said she was “saying goodbye” to tennis after giving her life to the sport.
Sharapova burst onto the tennis scene in stunning fashion in 2004 when she beat Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final aged just 17.
She then went on to win a further four Grand Slam titles, achieving the career slam in 2012 when she won the French Open to complete the set.
In 2016, Sharapova stunned the sporting world when she revealed she had failed a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open after testing positive for meldonium.
She was banned for two years but it was reduced to 15 months, allowing her to return in April 2017.
But Sharapova’s comeback was hampered by struggles with shoulder injuries and last month she played the last match of her career, crashing out of the Australian Open in the first round to Donna Vekic.
Sharapova wrote in 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?
“I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis—I’m saying goodbye.
“In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life. 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. After 28 years and five Grand Slam titles, though, I’m ready to scale another mountain—to compete on a different type of terrain.
“That relentless chase for victories, though? That won’t ever diminish. No matter what lies ahead, I will apply the same focus, the same work ethic, and all of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
“In the meantime, there are a few simple things I’m really looking forward to: A sense of stillness with my family. Lingering over a morning cup of coffee. Unexpected weekend getaways. Workouts of my choice (hello, dance class!).”
Sharapova has plenty of interests off the court, including a confectionary sweets business and fashion.
She won 36 career titles and over $38million in prize money in a decorated career.
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