In an era where the average retiring age of a tennis player is rising, Maria Sharapova, just 32, has decided to call it quits. The end comes just as suddenly as when she first announced her entry on the big stage, with that 2004 Wimbledon win over Serena Williams, then just 17. But she always had the requisite skills to make it big – the towering serve that came with her 6-foot-2 frame, the booming groundstrokes, the grunt that reverberated inside a crowded yet silent stadium. The arenas she played in were always packed. Mental fortitude helped her excel, so much so that of the five Grand Slam titles she won, the only major she won twice was the French Open, where she had once described herself as a “cow on ice.”
The accolades made her the first Russian woman to scale the summit in a sport dominated by the US. The beginning of the end started when she failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open and was handed a 15-month ban. But her brand was so widely popular that she was granted wild cards when she returned to the tour. Sharapova was a name that brought fans to the stands. Unfortunately for the women’s game and the marketing people, the form and consistency of play did not return. As of today, she’s ranked a low 373 in the singles chart — the last time she had gone lower was in August 2002.
For most, she’s retiring from the game too early, despite enjoying a glittering career that has spanned almost 18 years. The tennis may be over, but there’s a whole wide world waiting for her – endorsement deals, fashion shows, and of course, her own line of candy, Sugarpova. Without her, though, tennis stadia around the world will fall a bit more silent.
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