Maria Sharapova retires; wave goodbye to a great champion

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova serves at 2015 WTA Finals. Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The famous Maria Sharapova walked away from tennis a few days ago because her right shoulder was pretty much done. Many years ago, before her leg began to hurt, and she could crack the ball from both wings as well as any woman in the game.

She was always aggressive. The tall blond won five Grand Slams: at Wimbledon, the US Open, the Australian Open and twice at Roland Garros. She won a number of big tournaments, like Indian Wells, Miami, San Diego, and in Los Angeles at the WTA final, where she lived and she still does. Her house, is very close to the beach. In the great California sunshine.

When Sharapova first came into the United States, she was only seven years old. She was all ready playing tennis but she was very young. When she arrived, she couldn’t speak English, but eventually, the Russian was 100 percent American. She stayed in Florida, and she played and practiced until the sun went down.

When she was 16 years old , she began to play at the WTA Tour. One year later, when she was 17, out of nowhere, she won Wimbledon, shocking Serena Williams and the tennis world who didn’t know who she was  She hit lines, minute after minute. She was totally locked in, ace after ace, with her first serve into the corners, or onto the line. Her backhand was tremendous, and whenever she had an opportunity, she would jump on it. Her forehand was also very strong — not as good — but super hard. Her return on the second serve was vicious, and she wanted to put the ball away immediately. She must have done that, thousands of times. Even if she was playing badly, with many errors, she really would keep trying.

Maria Sharapova and dad
Maria Sharapova

The 32-year-old Sharapova would always push herself, on court and off. It took her years to understand that how to manage her game. That is the same thing with all of the players. When you are only a teenager, and in the early 20s, you just have to grow up. If you won’t, then you will not reach the top and become No. 1. Sharapova did it, as did Steffi Graf, Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Amelie Mauresmo, Victoria Azarenka and more. These are the Slam winners, the No. 1s. At the end of their careers, they were very thoughtful and intelligent. But, in the beginning, they needed to sprout and learn.

Without a doubt, Sharapova finally learned and made her a athletic and commercial success. She could really talk, in the media room, on TV and with broadcasters. She would smile, she would joke and she would laugh. There are times when she was sad, or irritated, or a little angry, but the same thing happens to 95 percent of us.

A few years ago, after the 2016 Australian Open, Sharapova was suspended due to a failed drug test. That was very difficult for her fans,and for her. She messed up, and she admitted it. 

After 15 months, she finally came back in April 2017 in Stuttgart. In the next two-and-a-half years, she had some very good wins, but she had to stop because her shoulder was super sore and she could not compete, citing her injured forearm. That is why she decided to retire this week. She was done.

The two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova said, “For me, it was a pleasure to be with her on the tour, sharing the court with her. It was always great battles when we play together. She’s a big hitter as well, so it’s been always nice to share the court with her and I do always have respect to her.”

Sharapova had so many fantastic matches, but it was time to put down the racquet. Now she is moving on. To exactly what she will do this year and next year in hard to say, but she will continue to push herself, just off court, now.

Australian Open picks for Monday, January 19

The 2015 Australian Open is here and ready to roll. Here are our picks for the opening day.

Rod Laver Arena

3-Simona Halep v Karin Knapp

The Romanian believes she is ready now to win a Slam. She played excellent ball at the WTA Final, very aggressive, fast and full of life. She will out steady Knapp, but she cannot be conservative against the big women.

5-Ana Ivanovic v Lucie Hradecka

For the first times, you can feel Ana playing smartly and not becoming nervous. She has improved a ton overall and will be heard from during the tournament, bashing the huge server Hradecka.

kerber 2013 pre champs

Kerber should get by Begu.

3-Rafa Nadal v Mikhail Youzhny

Who knows how well Rafa will play, saying that he isn’t right yet and still a little sore during the last half of 2014. But as he says that should he reach into the second week, then perhaps he will be competitive again. You know he will, nailing Youzhny side to side.

2-Roger Federer d Lu Yen-hsun

Here goes Roger again and in Brisbane towards the end he looks very, very good. Federer does not lose to the smaller guys in the Slams, so he will out think Yen-hsun, but Roger will have to be spot-on to win another Slam, as it’s been two-and-a-half years since his last triumph.

2-Maria Sharapova v Petra Martic

Sharapova had added a few new things, such as coming into the net more (I know, I know: it’s taken 10 years) and drop shots. She hasn’t played great in the past two years at the Aussie, but she is ready to rumble and knock the Croatian right off the court.

Margaret Court Arena

Jarmila Gajdosova v Alexandra Dulgheru

The Aussie Gajdosova looked very well in Sydney and while she can become wild, she wants the fans to see her again and take down a couple of seeds. She will begin run down Dulgheru in straight sets.

6-Andy Murray v Yuki Bhambri

Murray isn’t sure whether or not he can take out the best yet, but he doesn’t want to tell the big boys that, at least not yet. The young India Bhambri looked very good as a junior but isn’t strong enough. Murray will beat him down.

9-Angelique Kerber v Irina-Camelia Begu

Angie is all over the place. She tries super hard, but she doesn’t commit enough, which is why she can be had. But not yet, as the lefty will outlast Begu.

7-Eugenie Bouchard v Anna-Lena Friedsam

The Canadian has come a long way over the last year and wasn’t afraid to go after anyone, but she struggled the last four months in 2014. Now everyone knows who she is, which means it’s going to get even harder. Genie will hit through against Friedsam, but right now, she could be in for a fall.

Nick Kyrgios v Federico Delbonis

The Aussie Kyrgios is only 19 so he still has a long to go, but he has a gigantic serve and can crack his forehand. His back in hurting, meaning it is going to be very tough to reach very deep into the tournament. However, he could win a few rounds, like over the Argentine in four tough sets.

Hisense Arena

32-Belinda Bencic v Julia Goerges

I really like the Swiss teen overall as she is very smart and mixes it up, but she is a little up and down. The German Goerges has fallen in the singles but she can crush her forehand. How about an upset, stunning the Swiss in three long sets?

28-Sabine Lisicki v Kristina Mladenovic

I am not sure exactly where Lisicki is going (if she’s not on grass), but she will win in three long sets, as neither the German nor the French Mladenovic moves well enough.

Bernard Tomic v Tobias Kamke

The Aussie Tomic has been very good at times in Brisbane and Sydney, but he has not been able to take down the good boys. He is rising again, but he doesn’t want to get caught by a ton of up-and-coming Aussies like Sam Groth or Thanasi Kokkinakis. We don’t know yet, but Tomic will be good enough to best Kamke in straight sets.

Sam Groth v Filip Krajinovic

Speaking of which, Groth was also pretty darn good in Brisbane and Sydney. He has improved quite a bit over the past year or so. He has a massive serve and consistently charges to the net. The problem is, will he be too nervous at the AO? Perhaps, but not yet as he will edge Krajinovic in five sets.