Maria Sharapova Announces Retirement in Emotional Essay: 'Tennis—I'm Saying Goodbye'

Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 32.

The Russian star, who won five Grand Slam tournaments during her career, penned an emotional essay on Vanity Fair to reveal her decision.

"How do you leave behind the only life you've ever known?," she 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."

One of only 10 women players to hold a career Grand Slam, Sharapova first became No. 1 in the world in August 2005, but has chronic injuries have hampered her in recent years and she had slumped to 373 in the most recent WTA rankings.

Sharapova turned professional on her 14th birthday in 2001, before making waves on the junior circuit, reaching the finals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2002.

The grass of the All-England Club would provide the stage for the Russian's first major win as a professional 12 months later, when she defeated 11th seed Jelena Dokic to reach the fourth round.

A year later, Sharapova became the third-youngest woman in history to triumph at Wimbledon, defeating Serena Williams 6-1, 6-4.

The win in London kickstarted a meteoric rise to No. 1 in the world in the WTA rankings in 2005—the first Russian woman to hold the prestigious spot.

She topped the world rankings at the end of the year on three other occasions—in 2007, 2008 and 2012.

Following her maiden Wimbledon title, Sharapova added a U.S. Open crown in 2006, before going to win the Australian Open two years later and two French Open titles in 2012 and 2014.

Her career, however, was overshadowed by a doping scandal in March 2016, when she admitted testing positive for meldonium.

The failed doping test led to a two-year ban from the sport, which was subsequently reduced to 15 months.

Sharapova marked her return to the sport with a win at the Tianjin Open, her 36th and last career title.

Ranked in the top five in the world as late as 2016, the Russian forced her way back into the top 30 following her forced hiatus from tennis.

Injuries, however, began to take their toll and Sharapova has been largely anonymous in Grand Slam tournaments over the last three years.

Her best result was reaching the quarterfinals at the French Open in 2018, while last year she reached the fourth round at the Australian Open and was knocked out in the first round at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Last month, Sharapova was given a wild card entry at the Australian Open but lost in straight sets in the first round to Croatia's Donna Vekic.

The Russian, who has amassed an estimated $38 million in prize money alone over her career, went on to explain she would transfer her competitive approach to her next chapter.

"No matter what lies ahead, I will apply the same focus, the same work ethic, and all of the lessons I've learned along the way," she wrote.

"Tennis showed me the world—and it showed me what I was made of. It's how I tested myself and how I measured my growth. And so in whatever I might choose for my next chapter, my next mountain, I'll still be pushing. I'll still be climbing. I'll still be growing."

Maria Sharapova, Australian Open
Maria Sharapova of Russia looks on during her Women's Singles first round match against Donna Vekic of Croatia on day two of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21 in Melbourne, Australia. Hannah Peters/Getty