Five-time champion of the “Grand slams” and the former first rocket planet has announced his departure from the sport.
THE RISE OF MARY
April 2001. A very young Maria Sharapova, which just turned 14 years old, so it was possible to play in adult tournaments (but only a few times per season) played their first match on Tour. To modestly competition in Sarasota, Florida, not far from where she lived and trained. Rival Russian girls became an American Karin Miller, which was exactly 10 years older. Summary– 6:7 (2:7), 6:4, 6:4. In favor of Miller.
I remember I was very upset. Even cried in the locker room. I had the chance to start a career with a win, and I blew it. Was already a maximalist. I was reassured, saying that I played well. Very worthy for the first time! But still it took time to come to terms with it – wrote in his autobiography Sharapova.
Miller in the end remained unknown athlete, which if I remember the fans, for this game. In the WTA rankings, she did not rise above 100th position titles won (and quiet too). But Mary, already in 2002 passed round at Indian wells, plus began to win the ITF-tournaments. In 2003 I took the first level WTA titles (in Quebec city and Tokyo), debuted in the top 100. But in 2004 suddenly won Wimbledon, beating in the final itself Serena Williams. In its 17 years!
Thus was born the superstar of women’s tennis and world sport in General. Star, the level of which in Russia was not until that not until now.
The season basically became a superstar for the team. Myskina won in Paris, Kuznetsova at the US Open, the team won the Federation Cup and the Final tournament among the eight participants arrived as many as five of our athletes. And won it too, Sharapova! Even amid the success of other Russians Maria stood out – their young age, their bright appearance, attention from fans and the press. All understood – it is waiting for a successful future. And we know what happened next.
And it was, in total, 36 singles titles, career “Grand slam”, the first place in the ranking, Olympic silver in London and many other achievements. Plus – the status of the most famous, popular and highly paid athletes on the planet for many years (with revenues in the area of 22-27 million dollars per year). Sharapova loved stars, fans, sponsors. And she continued to love tennis – despite many other projects, burst into her life.
THE PROXIMITY OF THE END
And then there was the doping scandal of 2016, the recognition Sharapova in the use of Meldonium after the drug got in the restricted list, disqualified for 15 months and difficult-the difficult return to the sport. Coincidence or not, but after the rejection of Mildronate to return to the previous level Maria never managed. In 2017, resuming her career, she was still close to elite. Times played leaderboard ranking, won the title in Tianjin, almost broke into the top 20. But started permanent injury – shoulder, hip, wrist… Breaks became longer and longer, like a series of defeats. Victory was achieved rarely. At the US Open in 2019, Maria in the first round, lost to Serena Williams, taking with it all game, and then finished the season, citing health problems. By the end of the year, Sharapova left the top 100 (for the first time since 2003, if not consider it a forced break due to doping). And in January lost two competitive games – Jennifer Brady in Brisbane and Donna Vekic in Australian Open. Let’s face it – not the most sophisticated rivals.
And it became clear that Sharapova has never been closer to the end of a career.
“Don’t know” “do Not know”, “thought” – here’s a recap of the answers Mary’s questions about her future that journalists had descended on her in Melbourne.
– I am pleased with the work that you have done before returning to the court, but as you can see, even it doesn’t give results. It is impossible to get out of a bad situation, if you do not believe in yourself. If I can score the same form? Alas, I don’t have a crystal ball that could see into the future and say “Yes” or “No”. So I just don’t think about it, – said Sharapova.
But. apparently, much of it is decided already. After the Australian Open Maria withdrew from the tournament in Saint-Petersburg and took a break before the spring tournaments in America. Now is the time to apply for participation in Indian wells and Miami, where Russian is not rated even in qualification in it (at the moment – 373-I racket of the world). Hence, it is necessary to ask for a wild card. Give up the Russian invitation of the organizers, all would understand and so she will not return. Maria decided to announce it officially.
To tell the fans that all of and so long expected to hear. Expected, and feared.
Sharapova has always been committed to tennis. The sport has made her who she is – successful, famous and rich. A great story for Hollywood about a poor Russian girl who came with his father to a foreign country without knowing the language and with a couple of hundred dollars, sewn into a secret pocket of his pants, which turned into legend, and became the idol of millions. Many new stars, including Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, was inspired by the success of Mary, walked in her footsteps, and also added success. But Sharapova was first. And will remain so forever.
She has achieved everything that wanted. Yes, she created the “monster” that was chasing her entire career – those victories over Serena in the Wimbledon finals and the Final 16 years ago. It was after these defeats Williams herself vowed that “never lose that bitch” (quote from the book Sharapova). And not lost. Perhaps because of this motivation the American Maria were missing many titles, including Olympic gold. But… does it matter?
Now it just does not make sense to plow on. Sharapova soon 33 years, she just can’t play at the same level of power are not the same, injury becomes more age makes itself felt, and the fatigue too. A rare victory for small tournaments is not something for which Maria is ready to pace yourself in training, and love for the sport does not go far. Her passing was read for a long time – constant failures of playing in tournaments, frequent visits to social events, official parties, in parting with… But most importantly – in the tennis. Strained, have lost their lustre, not yielding no result, no fun – both for fans and the Media. The money she has. Trophies and titles too. Business name will provide her a future. But his family yet, and is unlikely to Maria does not think about it.
Hopefully, in her new life Sharapova all goes as successfully as in tennis. Although, of course, we’ll miss you…