Maria Sharapova: Five-time Grand Slam Champion ‘Says Goodbye’ to Tennis

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Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova is “saying goodbye” to tennis at the age of 32.

The Russian-born player wrote in the pages of Vanity Fair magazine a love letter to the sport that made her one of the world’s most famous female athletes since the turn of the century,

“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?” Sharapova, 32, wrote.

“I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis — I’m saying goodbye.”

“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.

“That relentless chase for victories, though? That won’t ever diminish. No matter what lies ahead, I will apply the same focus, the same work ethic, and all of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

“In the meantime, there are a few simple things I’m really looking forward to: A sense of stillness with my family. Lingering over a morning cup of coffee. Unexpected weekend getaways. Workouts of my choice (hello, dance class!)”

Sharapova is ending her career a few years after a 15-month suspension in 2016-2017 that resulted from her testing positive for the banned substance meldonium — which can help an athlete’s oxygen uptake and endurance.

“For an honest mistake, a two-year ban, I don’t think was correct,” she said in an Oct. 5, 2016, interview.

She said her 6-1 6-1 first-round defeat by Serena Williams at last year’s US Open was the “final signal”.

“Behind closed doors, 30 minutes before taking the court, I had a procedure to numb my shoulder to get through the match,” she said,

“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.

“Just stepping on to the court that day felt like a final victory, when of course it should have been merely the first step toward victory.”

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