Five-time tennis Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 32.
Sharapova, a former world No 1, burst onto the scene in 2004 when she clinched her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon at the age of 17, and she went on to win the French Open twice as well as both the Australian and French Open, ensuring she is one of just 10 women to have achieved a career Grand Slam.
The Russian athlete secured 36 WTA titles singles’ titles throughout her career, and first hit the top of the rankings in August 2005 by reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne. But after claiming her first three Grand Slam titles in four years, Sharapova was hindered by injury troubles, having struggled with a shoulder problem for more than a decade, and in 2016 she was banned for two years for testing positive at the Australian Open for the prohibited substance Meldonium, which was later reduced to 15 months.
Upon her return from suspension in 2017, Sharapova struggled for form and fitness, with her best Grand Slam performance being a quarter-final appearance in 2018. Her most-recent appearance came at the Australian Open last month, where she suffered a first-round exit at the hands of Donna Vekic.
Writing in an article for Vogue, 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.
"In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life. I’ll miss it every day. 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.
Was it a nice carpet this time? Poor jokes aside There will always be a cloud over her sadly since she was never able to have the same success after suspension. Haters will say she was only having all her success because of the drugs, defenders will say a tennis player's body often deteriorates after 30. We'll never know exactly which one it was.
Was it a nice carpet this time?Poor jokes aside There will always be a cloud over her sadly since she was never able to have the same success after suspension. Haters will say she was only having all her success because of the drugs, defenders will s
Question answered! Christopher Clarey@christophclarey 8m On Tuesday in Manhattan, with her mind made up, Maria Sharapova sat down to discuss pain, plans, tennis dreams, meldonium and a Kobe Bryant meeting that never happened. I can confirm that the carpet was suitably chic for a retirement interview https://twitter.com/christophclarey/status/1232682620238147584
Question answered!Christopher Clarey@christophclarey8m On Tuesday in Manhattan, with her mind made up, Maria Sharapova sat down to discuss pain, plans, tennis dreams, meldonium and a Kobe Bryant meeting that never happened.I can confirm that the carp
Monica Puig @MonicaAce93 Congrats on a stellar career @MariaSharapova . Thank you for all that you have done for our sport, but most of all, thank you for being there for me in the darkest of moments in Puerto Rico. You showed your simplicity, sincerity, wonderful personality and humility through it all. https://twitter.com/MonicaAce93/status/1232738034703110146
some lovely pics in that tweet too.
From what I've seen so far only Petra, Pica and Donna (female players) have said nice things about Maria.
Monica Puig @MonicaAce93Congrats on a stellar career @MariaSharapova . Thank you for all that you have done for our sport, but most of all, thank you for being there for me in the darkest of moments in Puerto Rico. You showed your simplicity, sinceri
Amanda Anisimova @AnisimovaAmanda We are all going to miss you @MariaSharapova. You have inspired so many people, and have shown what true dedication and hard work is. It’s amazing what you have accomplished. Wishing you nothing but the best in your next chapter.
Amanda Anisimova @AnisimovaAmandaWe are all going to miss you @MariaSharapova. You have inspired so many people, and have shown what true dedication and hard work is. It’s amazing what you have accomplished. Wishing you nothing but the best in your
A farewell tour - with the chance to perform one final time in Paris, London and New York - would not have been the Maria Sharapova way.
No longer competitive, and with a shoulder not fit for purpose, she would have hated making up the numbers at a benefit gig.
And so the end came in a well crafted essay published in Vogue and Vanity Fair - which very much is the Sharapova way.
The Russian leaves as one of only 10 women to have won each of the sport's four Grand Slam titles, and as a former world number one who made a huge impact on both sport and the celebrity world.
Some of those achievements have been tarnished by the positive test she returned for meldonium. Even if her physical problems were escalating, she was just not the same player after her return.
Her road to winning Wimbledon at the age of 17 in 2004 had many twists and turns. Conceived 40 miles from Chernobyl in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster, Sharapova was born in Siberia after her grandmother persuaded her parents it would be safer to leave.
The family then moved on to the Black Sea resort of Sochi, before heading to Florida when Sharapova was just six to try to carve out a professional tennis career. Mum stayed in Russia, and the family was not reunited for the best part of two years.
Sharapova had signed with Nike and IMG by the age of 11, and was a Wimbledon champion just six years later. She won three of her Grand Slams by the age of 21, and even though two French Open titles were to follow - arguably her greatest achievement on a surface on which she once said she felt like a "cow on ice" - her shoulder was becoming an increasing hindrance.
And then came the positive test for meldonium - a heart disease drug - at the 2016 Australian Open. In the evidence she presented at her tribunal, Sharapova said the drug was prescribed in 2005 by a doctor in Moscow to treat a mineral metabolism disorder, which had left her prone to colds and tonsil infections.
It had been legal to take meldonium until 1 January that year. Sharapova argued the initial two-year ban imposed was "unfairly harsh" as it was purely an administrative error. She appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), and her time in exile was reduced to 15 months.
Sharapova's use of meldonium was cloaked in secrecy. Only her father and her agent knew she was taking it until she informed the Russian team doctor the year before her positive test. And although Sharapova tended to declare the use of other medicine and vitamins on her doping control forms, mentions of meldonium were strangely absent.
The original tribunal concluded her use of meldonium "on match days, and when undertaking intensive training, is only consistent with an intention to boost her energy levels". Cas saw it differently - concluding it would be wrong to call her an "intentional doper".
Either way, a significant PR operation was launched to salvage her reputation. Blame was cast elsewhere; interviews carefully stage-managed. Humility was almost totally lacking, and Sharapova leaves the sport with many questions still unanswered.
She will not miss her peers, and they will not miss her. There were some notable exceptions, but the sparse number of social media tributes that greeted her retirement was striking.
Only Sharapova will know if that rankles even someone who wrote in an autobiography that she has "no interest in making friends on my battlefield".
You had to admire her bloody mindedness, and her extreme desire to win. And, at times, it was hard not to enjoy her undiplomatic language and withering responses.
When quizzed about her high-pitched grunting being a distraction to other players, she once replied: "No-one important enough has told me to change."
And when told Agnieszka Radwanska had expressed her displeasure (shortly after exiting the Australian Open), Sharapova replied with a cutting: "Isn't she already back in Poland?"
The 32-year-old says she is now ready to compete on a different type of terrain.
Sponsors flocked to her for the majority of her career, with business magazine Forbes estimating she was the highest earning female athlete 11 years in a row.
You sense she has a shrewd business brain, although her "premium candy" line Sugarpova - perhaps a dubious product for an athlete to promote - may need a serious rebrand if it is ever to prosper in a more health-conscious world.
Sharapova may be going quietly into retirement, but it certainly will not be the last we hear of her and it is believed that she has been hired by Sheik Mansour to head up the Manchester City appeal as they seek to have their UEFA Champions League ban overturned at Cas.
A farewell tour - with the chance to perform one final time in Paris, London and New York - would not have been the Maria Sharapova way.No longer competitive, and with a shoulder not fit for purpose, she would have hated making up the numbers at a be
Ajla Tomljanovic @Ajlatom Feb 29 Congrats @MariaSharapova on an incredible career face I Was very happy that I got to share the court with you twice in the last few months. Your attitude and fighting spirit throughout your whole career was unmatched and will def be missed Pavs also wrote some nice things about Masha on twitter, so it's over five players now
Ajla Tomljanovic @AjlatomFeb 29Congrats @MariaSharapova on an incredible career face I Was very happy that I got to share the court with you twice in the last few months. Your attitude and fighting spirit throughout your whole career was unmatched an