Tennis legend Maria Sharapova has confirmed her retirement from the sport in an emotional statement.
The Russian, 32, won five Grand Slams during her career including Wimbledon glory as a teenager in 2004 but says she lost her battle with injuries.
In an exclusive essay written for Vogue and Vanity Fair, Sharapova said: "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."
The statement concluded: "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."
Sharapova burst onto the scene with her Wimbledon victory aged just 17 and followed it up by winning the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008.
The latter of her major victories both came at the French Open in 2012 and 2014.
She wrote: "Wimbledon seemed like a good place to start. I was a naive 17-year-old, still collecting stamps, and didn’t understand the magnitude of my victory until I was older – and I’m glad I didn’t.
"My edge, though, was never about feeling superior to other players. It was about feeling like I was on the verge of falling off a cliff—which is why I constantly returned to the court to figure out how to keep climbing.
"The U.S. Open showed me how to overcome distractions and expectations. If you couldn’t handle the commotion of New York—well, the airport was almost next-door. Dosvidanya.
"The Australian Open took me to a place that had never been a part of me before—to an extreme confidence that some people call being “in the zone.” I really can’t explain it—but it was a good place to be.
"The clay at the French Open exposed virtually all my weaknesses—for starters, my inability to slide on it—and forced me to overcome them. Twice. That felt good.
"These courts revealed my true essence. "
Although she represented Russia, she lived in the United States where she was a permanent resident since 1994.
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