Maria Sharapova has ended her tennis career. The five-time Grand Slam winner announced her retirement from tennis in an essay she wrote for Vanity Fair. Sharapova, 32, turned pro at the age of 14 and reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings four times. However, she is now ranked No. 373 according to ESPN and recently lost in the first round of the Australian Open.
"Tennis—I’m saying goodbye," Sharapova wrote in Vanity Fair.
"Throughout my career, 'Is it worth it?' was never even a question—in the end, it always was. My mental fortitude has always been my strongest weapon. Even if my opponent was physically stronger, more confident—even just plain better—I could, and did, persevere.
"I’ve never really felt compelled to speak about work, or effort, or grit—every athlete understands the unspoken sacrifices they must make to succeed. But as I embark on my next chapter, I want anyone who dreams of excelling in anything to know that doubt and judgment are inevitable: You will fail hundreds of times, and the world will watch you. Accept it. Trust yourself. I promise that you will prevail."
Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004, the U.S. Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008 and the French Open in 2012 and 2014. She was ranked No. 1 in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2012. Sharapova revealed to the New York Times why she's retiring.
"I look at photos of myself and of the motion where I'm just about to hit the ball, and I'm in the air or just as I’m making contact," she said on Tuesday, "and I can’t even look at it because it makes me cringe. I have so much pain."
In 2016, Sharapova received a two-year suspension from the International Tennis Federation in 2016 for testing positive for meldonium which is a banned substance. The suspension was reduced to 15 months after she appealed. When Sharapova returned from her suspension, she was able to only reach one major quarterfinal. She also dealt with a number of injuries and surgeries throughout her career.0comments
"As I think you’ve seen throughout my career, my perseverance has been my greatest tool, my greatest strength," she said. "But I've started feeling like it was becoming a weakness, because the stubbornness that was keeping me going was keeping me going for wrong reasons."
Sharapova finishes with a career 645-171 singles record with 36 titles.