At 32, former champ Maria Sharapova retires from tennis

Maria Sharapova (Photo: Women’s Tennis Association, WTA)

Maria Sharapova, unable to recover from a recurring shoulder issue, is retiring from professional tennis after five Grand Slam titles and time ranked number one in the world.

In an essay written for Vanity Fair and Vogue about her decision to walk away from the sport, published on Wednesday, Sharapova asks: “How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known?”

A once-perennial rival to Serena Williams, Sharapova burst onto the tennis scene at 17 when she won Wimbledon in 2004.

The Russian, who moved to Florida as a child, would go on to complete a career Grand Slam with two titles at the French Open and one each at the US Open and Australian Open.

The only blemish on her career was serving a 15-month ban after she failed a doping test in 2016.

Since that suspension, Sharapova managed to reach only one major quarterfinal.

In her essay, Sharapova said that after so much success on the tennis court and off, so much time in the spotlight, she walks away having lost four consecutive matches at Grand Slam tournaments.

She was asked after that defeat whether it might have been her last appearance at Melbourne Park, where she won the trophy in 2008, and she repeatedly replied with “I don’t know.”

But her right shoulder has been a problem off-and-on for more than a decade.

“I put in all the right work. There is no guarantee that even when you do all of those things, that you’re guaranteed victory in a first round or in the third round or in the final. That’s the name of this game,” Sharapova said after what turned out to be her final match. “That’s why it’s so special to be a champion, even for one time.”