Sharapova’s Time in Tennis: Teen Titles, Career Slam, a Doping Ban
Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova announced her retirement from tennis on Wednesday. The 32-year-old said in a column published in Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines that recurring injuries in recent years are what led to her making the decision.
"How do you leave behind the only life you've ever known? 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," she wrote.
Long standing shoulder problems have resulted in the Russian hardly playing any matches over the past year. Her final appearance may just have been the 2020 Australian Open where she lost in the first round to Serbian 19th seed Donna Vekic.
As the star walks away from the sport, here’s a look a timeline of her career:
Born on April 19 in Nyagan, Russia. Started playing tennis at 4. When she was 6, participated in a tennis exhibition in Moscow, where she was noticed by 18-time major champion Martina Navratilova.
Began training at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida at 9.
Won her first WTA title at the Japan Open. Made her Grand Slam debut at the Australian Open, losing in the first round. She also lost in the first round of the French Open, before earning her first match win at a major at Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round.
Upset two-time defending champion Serena Williams 6-1, 6-4 in the Wimbledon final to win her first Grand Slam title at 17. Sharapova became the third-youngest winner at a tournament that began in the 1870s. Later that year, Sharapova beat Williams again to win the season-ending WTA championship. They would go on to meet each other 19 other times; Williams won all 19 of those matches.
In August, rose to No. 1 in the WTA rankings, the first Russian to hold that spot. She would go on to spend a total of 21 weeks atop the rankings.
Won the U.S. Open for her second major title, beating Justine Henin 6-4, 6-4 in the final.
Won the Australian Open for the third Grand Slam trophy of her career, defeating Ana Ivanovic 7–5, 6–3 in the final. Missed that year's U.S. Open because she needed surgery on her right shoulder, a recurring problem for the rest of her playing days.
Won the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam, overwhelming Sara Errani 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Not bad for someone who once joked that her movement on the red clay used at Roland Garros made her look like "a cow on ice." Sharapova became the 10th woman in the sport's history with at least one title at each of the four most prestigious tournaments in tennis; she is one of six women to do it in the professional era. Later that season, won a silver medal at the London Olympics, losing to Williams in the final.
Won the French Open again, edging Simona Halep 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4 in the final; it would be Sharapova's last Grand Slam title. She also became the first tennis player to pass 15 million followers on Facebook. She currently has more than 8 million followers on Twitter and nearly 4 million on Instagram.
Runner-up to Williams at the Australian Open; it would be Sharapova's 10th and last appearance in a major final.
After she lost to Williams again at the Australian Open, this time in the quarterfinals, word emerged that Sharapova was being suspended for failing a doping test for meldonium, which had recently been banned. She appealed her original penalty of two years and wound up serving a 15-month suspension.
Returned to the tour in April and, with her ranking too low to enter tournaments automatically, was denied a wild-card invitation for the French Open. Eventually returned to Grand Slam action at the U.S. Open, where she lost in the fourth round. In October, claimed her first title in two years by winning the Tianjin Open. It was the 36th singles title of her career — and the last.
Loses her only two matches of the season, including in the first round of the Australian Open, 6-3, 6-4 against Donna Vekic. It is her fourth consecutive Grand Slam loss, the longest such streak of Sharapova's career.