Former Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova is retiring from tennis. Sharapova made the surprising announcement on Wednesday in an essay that appeared in Vanity Fair and Vogue.
"How do you leave behind the only life you've ever known?" Sharapova wrote. "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 broke into the pro tennis ranks at just 14 years old. The Russian star captured five Grand slam titles over her career, winning Wimbledon in 2004, the U.S. Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008 and the French Open in 2012 and '14.
She put together a 645-171 singles record and ended up reaching the top spot in the WTA rankings during the 2005, '07, '08 and '12 seasons. Sharapova last played in the 2020 Australian Open, in which she was eliminated in the first round by Crotia's Donna Vekic in straight sets.
"Throughout my career, Is it worth it? was never even a question -- in the end, it always was," she wrote. "My mental fortitude has always been my strongest weapon. Even if my opponent was physically stronger, more confident -- even just plain better -- I could, and did, persevere."
Sharapova tested positive for the banned substance meldonium in 2016 and received a two-year suspension from the International Tennis Federation as a result. The suspension was eventually reduced by 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after Sharapova appealed the ban.
The late stages of Sharapova's career were dominated by shoulder injuries and she was ranked No. 369 in the WTA rankings most recently.