‘Tennis, I’m saying goodbye’: Russian five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova calls time on glittering career
Russian five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 32.
Sharapova broke the news to fans in a message on her Instagram account, along with a picture of herself holding a racket as a young girl.
“Tennis showed me the world – and it showed me what I was made of," Sharapova wrote.
"It’s how I tested myself and how I measured my growth. 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.
“Tennis - I’m saying goodbye.”
Sharapova accompanied her retirement message with an article in Vanity Fair magazine, discussing her struggles with a persistent shoulder injury and writing: "My body had become a distraction."
In calling time on her gilded career, Sharapova leaves a sport in which she won five Major titles: two at the French Open, and one each at Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the US Open.
The first of those titles came on the grass courts of Wimbledon in 2004, when aged just 17 she stunned top seed and defending champion Serena Williams in the final.
That announced her arrival as a sporting superstar as she reached the heights of world number one, going on to win Grand Slams in New York in 2006, Melbourne in 2008, and the clay courts of Roland-Garros in 2012 and 2014. She also picked up a haul of 36 WTA tour titles.
Sharapova's fame rose rapidly in parallel off the court, as she picked up a lucrative series of sponsorhips which saw her top the charts as the high-earning female sports star for more than a decade.
The latter part of Sharapova's career was beset by controversy when she announced in early 2016 that she had tested positive for meldonium, a previously legal substance she had taken for 10 years but which had been added to the list of banned substances that year.
Sharapova eventually served a 15-month suspension, and on her return to tennis rarely reached anything close to the heights she had previously.
She also struggled with injury in recent seasons, which saw her playing time dramatically reduced and her ranking fall to a lowly 373 in the world.
Nonetheless, Sharapova retires with her place in history secure as her country's most successful tennis player ever, and among the most successful women ever to play the game.