Maria Sharapova, five-time grand slam winner, has announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 32.
The Russian disclosed this in an emotional retirement letter to Vogue and Vanity Fair on Wednesday.
“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.”
“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 said.
The former world No 1 burst into the tennis scene with her Wimbledon victory at the age of 17, after which she won the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008. The other major victories both came at the French Open in 2012 and 2014.
She continued: “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.”
She had won only three matches since reaching the fourth round of the 2019 Australian Open and was knocked out in the first round at this year’s tournament in Melbourne by Donna Vekic.
In 2016, Sharapova tested positive for the drug meldonium and was banned for two years.