AGENCIES, Los Angeles: Maria Sharapova, the blonde-haired Russian tennis superstar who brought the world to her knees after defeating top seed Serena Williams at the 2004 Wimbledon Final at the tender age of 17, has bid adieu to the game.
In an essay for Vanity Fair, the five-time Grand Slam winner announced her retirement on Wednesday. She wrote, “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.”
This should not come as a shock to her fans as she has been plagued with injuries for a long time now, especially tendon damage in her shoulder. The 32-year-old has also not found her glorious form post her 15 month suspension in 2016 due to using meldonium, a banned substance.
A first round defeat to Donna Vekic at the Australian Open 2020 also spurred on this decision, as did the death of close friend Kobe Bryant, a basketball superstar. Bryant died along with his teenage daughter Gianna in a tragic helicopter crash last month.
Known for her dangerous forehands and teeth-gritting screams as she pranced around on court mincing her opponents, she was famous off court as well. According to Forbes, Maria was the highest earning female sportsperson for 11 consecutive years, through numerous endorsements for top brands including Nike. She also launched a successful candy company called Sugarpova.
She took to Twitter to announce her retirement as well. Along with sharing a picture of herself as a child on a tennis court, she wrote that she would be pushing, climbing and growing for the next chapter in her life.
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. pic.twitter.com/kkOiJmXuln
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) February 26, 2020