'I'm saying goodbye' - Maria Sharapova announces retirement from tennis

Maria Sharapova is hanging up her racquet after nearly three decades playing tennisMaria Sharapova is hanging up her racquet after nearly three decades playing tennis
Maria Sharapova is hanging up her racquet after nearly three decades playing tennis | Getty
Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement from tennis in an essay in Vanity Fair magazine.

The five-time grand slam champion and former world No.1 has struggled with chronic shoulder problems and has slumped to 373 in the rankings after nearly two decades at the top.

Writing in vanityfair.com, Sharapova said: "How do you leave behind the only life you've ever known?

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"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."

Sharapova, who won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old defeating defending champion Serena Williams in the final, said of her victory: "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.

"In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life. 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."

Shoulder issues

Sharapova admitted that her shoulder problems started to become more of an issue at the US Open last August.

She recalled: "Behind closed doors, thirty minutes before taking the court, I had a procedure to numb my shoulder to get through the match.

"Shoulder injuries are nothing new for me — over time my tendons have frayed like a string. I’ve had multiple surgeries — once in 2008; another procedure last year — and spent countless months in physical therapy.

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"Just stepping onto the court that day felt like a final victory, when of course it should have been merely the first step toward victory. I share this not to garner pity, but to paint my new reality: My body had become a distraction."

The 32-year-old has called time on her tennis career with 36 WTA titles and four ITF wins to her name.

She added: "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."