Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova announced her retirement from tennis this February 26.
“Tennis—I’m saying goodbye,” she wrote in an essay for Vogue and Vanity Fair.
Sharapova first made a name for herself by claiming the Wimbledon title in 2004, beating out then-No.1 seed Serena Williams. She was only 17 years old, making her the third-youngest player to conquer the oldest tennis tournament in the world.
She went on to earn 4 more Grand Slam titles: two French Open titles, one Australian Open, and a US Open title.
“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,” she shares.
Sharapova climbed the world rankings to become No. 1 in 2005, the same year she won the US Open. Then in 2007, she began a long battle with shoulder troubles. It would eventually lead to her missing parts of some seasons and lowering her rank to 373rd.
“But there is no mastering tennis—you must simply keep heeding the demands of the court while trying to quiet those incessant thoughts in the back of your mind,” she admits.
In 2016, she was banned from the sport for 15 months. Sharapova tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open. She returned to tennis in 2017, but it has been a struggle.
“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,” she concludes.
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