Maria Sharapova, five-time grand slam winner, retires from tennis

Moscow: Five-time grand slam winner and former world No.1 Maria Sharapova has announced that she is retiring from professional tennis.

The 32-year-old Russian has struggled with chronic shoulder problems this year and has slumped to 373 in the rankings.

In an essay for Vanity Fair and Vogue, Sharapova wrote: "How do you leave behind the only life you've ever known?"

Maria Sharapova has announced that she is retiring from tennis.Credit:AP

"How do you walk away from the courts you've trained on since you were a little girl, the game that you love – one which brought you untold tears and unspeakable joys – a sport where you found a family, along with fans who rallied behind you for more than 28 years?

"I'm new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis – I'm saying goodbye."

Sharapova will go down as one of the greats of the era – only Serena and Venus Williams have won more slam titles among current players.

She has struggled with chronic shoulder problems and this season has played only two matches, both of which she lost.

Sharapova, who moved to Florida as a child, burst onto the tennis scene at 17 when she won Wimbledon in 2004. She would go on to win the US Open title in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 before twice lifting the trophy at Roland Garros, in 2012 and 2014.

Maria Sharapova holds the winner’s trophy after defeating Serena Williams in the WImbledon final in 2004.Credit:AP

In 2016 her reputation was tarnished when she was banned from the sport for 15 months, on appeal, after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

Her impact on court was trumped by her profile off it. She became the world's highest-earning female athlete for much of her career.

"Looking back now, I realise that tennis has been my mountain. My path has been filled with valleys and detours, but the views from its peak were incredible," Sharapova wrote in her essay.

"After 28 years and five grand slam titles, though, I’m ready to scale another mountain, to compete on a different type of terrain."

Russia's Tennis Federation had no immediate comment.

AP, Reuters

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