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26 Feb, 2020 15:12

'The end of an era': Tennis reacts to Russian ace Maria Sharapova's retirement

'The end of an era': Tennis reacts to Russian ace Maria Sharapova's retirement

Maria Sharapova has left an indelible mark on the women's tennis game, say legions of the Russian's fans reacting on social media to the five-time Grand Slam winner's announcement that she has called time on her career.

The 32-year-old announced her retirement Wednesday in a heartfelt post to Instagram and an accompanying essay penned for Vanity Fair in which she said that consistent injuries "had become a distraction" after she played just two matches this season, losing them both.

Also on rt.com ‘Tennis, I’m saying goodbye’: Russian five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova calls time on glittering career

She steps away from the sport as one of women's tennis' most successful players. In addition to her five Grand Slam titles, she claimed an impressive 36 WTA tour titles as well as the status of being the best-paid female sports star on the planet for a substantial portion of her career.

Time, though, waits for no one. Injuries, as well as a ban for using banned substance meldonium, had kept her from the game for an extended period in the latter part of her career. This inactivity saw her world ranking plummet to 373 - a result, surely, of the ravages that a half a life of top-level tennis can place on someone.

Such was Sharapova's status as one of the sport's greats that many of the Russian's fans have taken to social media to pay tribute to one of her country's greatest ever athletes.

Sharapova's decision to retire leaves an opportunity for the up and coming stars of Russian women's tennis to become figureheads for the sport in their country. 

Both Ekaterina Alexandrova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are both currently ranked within the top 30 players in the world while, on the male side of things, Daniil Medvedev is the country's undisputed top star while Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov are both firmly entrenched in the world's top 20 players.