Maria Sharapova Retires From Tennis at Age of 32, After 19-Year-Pro Career

Maria Sharapova is done playing the sport that made her an icon — that is — professionally done.

On Wednesday Maria Sharapova retired from tennis. In an essay for Vanity Fair she stated she’s “ready to scale another mountain.” The 32-year-old has had a very successful career, winning five grand slam titles throughout. Though she’s amazing at the sport that she loves the most, Sharapova has decided to call it quits. The decision was not an easy one though, and in the essay, she states, “How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known?”

Maria was born in Russia and grew up playing tennis in Florida

After beating Serena Williams at the 2004 Wimbledon final at just 17 years old, Sharapova continued her success when she reached No. 1 one year later. In 2006, she won her second major trophy at Flushing Meadows. She then added an Australian Open title to her awards in 2008, and didn’t stop there. She went on to win the French Open in 2012 and 2014.

Sharapova credits her success to playing the sport while living in the moment. She wrote in Vanity Fair, “One of the keys to my success was that I never looked back and I never looked forward.” She also tated, “I believed that if I kept grinding and grinding, I could push myself to an incredible place. But there is no mastering tennis — you must simply keep heeding the demands of the court while trying to quiet those incessant thoughts in the back of your mind.”

Physical pain plays a big part in why Sharapova is 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.”

The pain has been pretty consistent for the last 2 years for the former tennis player. During her career Sharapova has dealt with recurring tendon damage in her right shoulder, along with inflammation in her forearms. Naturally, this had made it excruciatingly difficult for the 32-year-old to even grip a racket in the past.

Sharapova has said about her pain, “Fourteen hours of my day in the last six months have been just, like, caring for my body.” She also stated, “Before I get on the court every day I’m tied to like an ultrasound machine or another machine or a recovery unit.”

After drug use in 2016, Sharapova was suspended from playing tennis

In 2016 Sharapova failed a drug test. She was labeled “the sole author of her own misfortune” since she hid her regular pre-match use of an at the time newly banned substance from anti-doping authorities and people in her entourage.

At the time, the tennis star said in a statement on her Facebook account, that she would appeal the “unfairly harsh” punishment to the court of Arbitration for Sport.

Sharapova tested positive for meldonium — a drug originally meant for heart patients — the day after losing to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals. Due to several elements of Sharapova’s case, it was concluded that she took the substance “for the purpose of enhancing her performance.” As a result, Sharapova lost all ranking points and prize money she earned in Melbourne. Sharapova claims she had been taking the substance for years due to a magnesium deficiency, dizziness, as well as a family history of diabetes.

In her essay for Vanity fair, Sharapova wrote, “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,” she stated. “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.”

Regardless of what Sharapova chooses to do after tennis, rest assured, she will give it her all.