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.