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Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has announced retirement from professional tennis. “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? I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis—I’m saying goodbye,” she wrote in an essay for Vogue and Vanity Fair.

Sharapova, 32, made her professional debut on her 14th birthday in 2001. At 17, she won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon by upsetting top-seeded Serena Williams in the final and became the third-youngest woman to win Wimbledon.

“In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life,” Sharapova wrote in an essay announcing her retirement for Vanity Fair. “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.”

She reached the No. 1 ranking on Aug. 22, 2005 and captured the U.S. Open title the next year. In 2008, she didn’t drop a set all tournament en route to the Australian Open championship.

“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,” she wrote.

Maria Sharapova kisses the women's singles championship trophy at the U.S. Open in 2006.
Sharapova played the remainder of that year with a rotator cuff injury and eventually underwent surgery.

2012 was a key year in her rise back to the top of the sport, as she reclaimed her No. 1 ranking while winning her first French Open to complete the career Grand Slam. At the London Olympics, she took silver behind Serena Williams’ gold.

Another shoulder injury hindered Sharapova, but again the rehab gave way to a grand slam title — the 2014 French Open, the only Grand Slam she repeated during her career.

In 2016, Sharapova revealed she failed a drug test following the 2016 Australian Open. She tested positive for meldonium, a substance she’d taken for years before the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) placed it on the banned substances list. The International Tennis Federation suspended Sharapova for two years, but the punishment was reduced to 15 month after an independent arbitrator ruled she acted with “no significant fault” and that “under no circumstances … can the player be considered to be an ‘intentional’ doper.”

Sharapova returned to tennis in 2017 without much positive results. She had not advanced passed the quarterfinals since Wimbledon in 2015. Sharapova finished her career having played in more than 800 matches.

“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,” Sharapova wrote. “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.”
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