‘Beautiful moment of respect’: Sharapova praised for comforting injured opponent Wang (VIDEO)
Wang, who had entered the tournament through a wild card, took the first set against the five-time Grand Slam winner on a tie-break.
However, the 17-year-old suffered intense cramps during the second set, first taking a medical timeout at 3-2 down before ultimately forfeiting two matches as she struggled to continue before pulling out.
Sharapova was handed the win 6-7, 5-2 and moved into the quarterfinals, but the 31-year-old won widespread praise for attending to a distraught Wang after she was forced out of the match.
Sharapova was heard lifting the Chinese youngster's spirits, telling her she "had played unbelievable."
The touching moment won praise from social media users.
Sportsmanship 🔝🔝👏🏼👏🏼— Donna Vekic (@DonnaVekic) January 2, 2019
"Are you drinking enough". Omg this caring side of Maria. Think I'm in love with her even more 😭— Meera (@Meera8r) January 2, 2019
Outstanding sportmanship by @MariaSharapova here. Proud of her and this whole scene is what Tennis is about.— Roger Buchana (@Butters360) January 2, 2019
That's great sportsmanship by @MariaSharapova after her opponent, Xinyu Wang (won 1st set), was forced to retire. Maria went over and sat w/her... talking, and consoling w/laughter. I rarely see this in the #WTA...— ColdBreeze (@CoolBreeze018) January 2, 2019
Such great words of encouragement and sportsmanship from Maria. I'm glad people are getting to see that side of her.— michael epps (@michael_epps) January 2, 2019
People can say what they want to say about Maria but she has proven over and over again that she's really not that cold hearted person that people think she is. And honestly, shame on you if you refuse to give Maria credit for her amazing sportsmanship!— Sahar (@saharhazem98) January 2, 2019
A beautiful moment of respect and fair play as @MariaSharapova comes to Wang, who was forced to retire while leading the 5-time Gd Slam champion, and comforts her, acknowledging her level and wishing her all the best ! Wang ended up smiling 😊🎾 Congrats to both ! #ShenzhenOpenpic.twitter.com/sYGjI9MLWi— Tie Breaking News (@TennisAddict5) January 2, 2019
Sharapova progressed to the quarterfinals to face top seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, after she beat Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova in straight sets in their second-round clash.