'The end of an era': Tennis reacts to Russian ace Maria Sharapova's retirement
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.
From her back story, to winning Wimbledon 2004 at 17, and her comeback from a shoulder reconstruction to win the 2012 French Open and complete the career Grand Slam; to THAT day in 2016 when everything changed, and the PR spin ever since - I‘ve been enthralled by Maria Sharapova. pic.twitter.com/weGXevwtFv— Elaine Buckley (@ElaineBucko) February 26, 2020
its because of her I started playing tennis, its because of her I traveled the world, its because if her i believed in my dreams, its because of her i am still chasing my dreams. thank you masha for everything, will miss you. Спасибо Маша❤️ 😢@MariaSharapova#unstoppablepic.twitter.com/dqFnE554TW— anna (@sharapova_girl) February 26, 2020
Despite all the controversies about her, Maria Sharapova has probably been the most popular and iconic female tennis player ever, and a champion of course.That said, she had basically been retired for two years now, so not to be surprised.Happy retirement Maria! pic.twitter.com/uzKbGFGL0y— Simone Curto (@CurtoSimone) February 26, 2020
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.
We report that Maria Sharapova is retiring from pro tennis at age 32. Not weary of the game but tired of fighting her body. Once No. 1, she won 5 Slam singles titles & earned tens of millions on & off the court. By force of will & personality she was one of the game’s true stars pic.twitter.com/7C4KCwEsOX— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) February 26, 2020
Petra Kvitova on the news of Maria Sharapova’s retirement. “It was pleasure to be w/ her on the tour, sharing the court w/ her. It was always great battles when we play together. So it's been always nice to share the court with her and I do always have respect to her.” #QTO2020pic.twitter.com/3ufJT3GzPx— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) February 26, 2020