Maria Sharapova used an article in Vanity Fair to announce she was “saying goodbye” to tennis on this day in 2020.
Sharapova had struggled with chronic shoulder problems for some time, and the five-time grand slam champion and former world number one had dropped to 373rd in the rankings.
The then-32-year-old said it would be a wrench to walk away, writing: “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.”
Having announced her talent by winning Wimbledon at the age of just 17 in 2004, Sharapova went on to establish herself as one of the greats of her era – among her contemporaries only Serena and Venus Williams won more slam singles titles.
Sharapova added the US Open title in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 before twice lifting the trophy at Roland Garros, in 2012 and 2014. She is one of only 10 women to achieve the career Grand Slam.
Her impact on court was trumped by her profile off it, with the Russian the world’s highest-earning female athlete for much of her career.
In 2016 came the bombshell announcement that she had failed a doping test for the cardiac drug meldonium, which had been added to the banned list at the start of that year.
Sharapova was banned for two years, reduced to 15 months on appeal.
She returned to action in April 2017 but was unable to reach her previous heights, peaking at a high of 21 in the rankings and reaching just one more grand slam quarter-final.
In July last year, Sharapova became a mother with the birth of her son Theodore.