Russian star Sharapova retires from tennis

2020-02-27 09:40:50 GMT2020-02-27 17:40:50(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Russia's five-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement at the age of 32.

In an essay written for Vogue and Vanity Fair on Wednesday, Sharapova said: "Tennis -- I'm saying goodbye."

"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 and brought you untold tears and unspeakable joys," she wrote.

"The first courts I ever played on were uneven concrete with faded lines. Over time, they became muddy clay and the most gorgeous, manicured grass your feet could ever step upon. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd ever win on the sport's biggest stages -- and on every surface," Sharapova continued.

Sharapova began her professional tennis career in 2001 at age 14. She won Wimbledon in 2004, the US Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008 and the French Open in 2012 and 2014.

The 32-year-old Russian reached world No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2012, but she has dropped to No. 373 currently.

Sharapova received a two-year suspension from the International Tennis Federation in 2016 for testing positive for the banned substance meldonium. The suspension was reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after Sharapova appealed. Since that suspension, Sharapova managed to reach only one major quarterfinal.

Sharapova has also been dealing with problems in her right shoulder for years and had multiple surgeries.

"Listening to this voice so intimately, anticipating its every ebb and flow, is how I accepted those final signals when they came. One of them came last August at the US Open. Behind closed doors, thirty minutes before taking the court, I had a procedure to numb my shoulder to get through the match," she recalled.

She lost in the first round of this year's Australian Open to Croatia's Donna Vekic in straight sets. She played only two matches this season and lost both.

"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," Sharapova wrote.

"Throughout my career, Is it worth it? was never even a question. In the end, it always was."