Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement from tennis writing that she “is saying goodbye” to the sport that made her of the world’s most recognisable sportswomen.
In an article for Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines, five-time grand slam winner Sharapova, 32, said her body “had become a distraction” after a struggle with shoulder injuries.
“After 28 years and five Grand Slam titles, though, I’m ready to scale another mountain — to compete on a different type of terrain,” the Russian-born player wrote.
Sharapova burst onto the scene as a supremely gifted teenager winning her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2004 aged 17 and completing the career slam – all four major titles – by winning the French Open in 2012.
In 2016, she served a 15-month ban for failing a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open.
After returning from her ban in 2017, Sharapova struggled to recapture her best form and suffered from a number of injuries.
She has dropped to 373 in the world rankings, her lowest ranking since August 2002, and has lost in the first round of her past three Grand Slam tournaments.
Sharapova emigrated to the US as a seven-year-old with her father Yuri in 1994 with only a borrowed $700 to their names as they sought to make the most of her talent.
She became world number one in 2005 and won the US Open the next year.
But in 2007 Sharapova began her long on-off battle with shoulder trouble.
She would win the 2008 Australian Open before a second shoulder injury kept her off tour for the second half of the season, missing the US Open and Beijing Olympics.
In 2012, Sharapova captured the French Open to become the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam. She added Olympic silver to her resume that year.
Her 2014 French Open title was another high after a dispiriting injury low.
More fitness troubles followed before the bombshell announcement of her positive test for the banned heart drug meldonium.
Sharapova returned to the sport in 2017.
“In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life,” Sharapova said in the article announcing her retirement.
“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.
“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.”