Sharapova retires from tennis

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Maria Sharapova has decided to put an end to her tennis career as her body can't take it anymore. "In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life", she wrote for Vanity Fair. "I’ll miss it everyday."

When Maria Sharapova was asked about the next tournaments on her schedule after losing in the first round in Melbourne, she wouldn’t really say. Since then she had been on the roads, doing events, enjoying life. Same as this winter after and before a last push in the winter for a strong physical preparation. She had put all chances on her side by hiring coach Riccardo Piatti in order to find a way to solve her serve issues, due to the right shoulder that had to go again under the knife last year. But she probably already knew, as we all did, that her body was done for the level she wanted to play and needed to play in order to win Grand Slam titles.

“In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life”, she wrote for Vanity Fair. “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.”

At 32 years old, Sharapova was 373 in the ranking after having barely played in 2019. No doubt she’s still as determined as before to fight for the biggest things on the court, but her body won’t follow her mind anymore. The 5th time Grand Slam champion and former World No. 1 was also searching for a last high since her return from her doping ban.

HER FIVE GRAND SLAMS
WIMBLEDON 2004
US OPEN 2006
AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2008
ROLAND-GARROS 2012, 2014

She trained hard for it, fought hard every day she could be able to practice. To no avail. When I met her in Palm Springs back in 2017 as she was making her return to competition, she couldn’t even bear to think about keeping playing until the Games in Tokyo. Not because she didn’t want to, but because as we both knew, her body had already started to show signs of serious distress since 2015.

It had been the left arm, it had been the right shoulder. It was just: too many years of tennis, too much years of being a 100% or nothing kind of person. But she wanted to get back and end on her own terms. Her body won in the end, as it’s so often the case in this sport.

“Looking back now, I realize that tennis has been my mountain”, she explained to Vanity Fair. “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.”

Her legacy will of course always fight with this Meldonium disaster, but her legacy will still be a driving force in tennis. She was the 17 years old prodigy beating Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final in 2004. She became a tennis icon and an incredibly successful businesswoman. She became the path to follow for so many little girls and their families in Russian, in the US and in the rest of the world. As recently told by the Sofia Kenin run in Melbourne. She was also the ultimate professional with media and sponsors: she showed how it should be done to several generations of aspiring superstars of the game.

Sharapova also told the New York Times that the death of her great friend Kobe Bryant had been a factor in her decision process.

“We were supposed to see each other like three days after the crash. (…) I think we all seem at times in our journey like larger than life because of what we do, but everyone at the core is incredibly fragile. (…) And if anything it just opens up your eyes to what really matters in life, so that was a moment where I had a really good think about my future as well.”

Sharapova, with her triumphs, her ups and downs, her come-backs, her losses, the polemics, the way she always kept a distance from the rest in the lockers and out, her incredible fighting spirit, has put a stamp on tennis forever.

At 32 years old, the very smart and funny – she can be hilarious when you get to know her – Sharapova is also surely already planning the next step. To forget the unfinished business she surely feels she’s had with tennis. Planning on which big stage she intends to shine now, because that’s the only thing she knows: finding a way to success, personally and in her career. “Queen Maria”, as many would call her in her greatest days, will be missed. And debated. But her journey will remain a success story.

More news on Sharapova’s retirement :
“Her impact on the game was great” : reaction
She will not make a farewell tour
Djokovic praises Sharapova’s carrer (video)
Nothing but respect for her, says Kvitova (video)

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