Russian tennis starlet and former world number 1 Maria Sharapova has retired from tennis. Sharapova aged 32 won 5 Grand Slams in her career. The later part of her journey was however mostly affected by doping related controversies, ban form the sport and constant injury troubles.
In this article we look back at Sharapova’s highly successful career as well as the transcending popularity. We also analyse how her already illustrious career would have been truly legendary in an alternate sequence of events. These are the things you need to know about Maria Sharapova.
The Beginning Towards Stardom
First thing about Maria Sharapova is that she turned pro in 2001. She won her first WTA title in 2003 at the Japan Open. The year 2004 really saw her career catapulted with many important wins. Sharapova also broke into the WTA top 20 in the first quarter of that year. At the 2004 French Open the Russian reached her first ever Grand Slam quarter-final. A month later at Wimbledon her career would change forever.
Things about Maria Sharapova must include her teenage achievement. Aged 17 at that time, Sharapova was seeded 13th at Wimbledon 2004. She however gave the performance of a lifetime by going all the way in the tournament and lifting the trophy. She defeated the two time defending champion and tournament favorite Serena Williams in the final. The straight set victory rocked the tennis world at the time. The new star of WTA circuit had announced her entry.
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In November 2004, Sharapova won another big title at the Sony Ericsson WTA season finale. This time also her opponent in the finals was Serena Williams. The rivalry between these two stars was developing both on and off the court. In 2005, Sharapova became the world number 1 first time in her career. This is another thing that we need to know about Maria Sharapova.
Completing The Career Slam
One more interesting thing about Maria Sharapova was that she was among the favorites in all Grand Slams in 2006. She however was not successful in going beyond the semi-final stages in the first three. At the US Open, she won her second major tournament beating Justine Henin of Belgium in the finals.
In 2007 the Russian starlet again returned to the top of WTA rankings. Soon however her first brush with injuries would start. Sharapova discovered a shoulder injury in 2007 March. She thus missed most of the clay court season suffering a ranking down-slide outside the top 5.
In the 2008 Australian Open Maria returned with a bang. She lifted the trophy without losing a single set. In the finals, her opponent was Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic. Sharapova regained the world number 1 rankings later in 2008 but her shoulder injury resurfaced which would make her lose the ranking soon. Yet another thing that we need to know about Maria Sharapova.
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In 2009 and 2010 Sharapova was forced out of the game many times by the career threatening shoulder injury. Her series of injury, rehabilitation and comeback resulted in loss of form and consequent loss of ranking outside the top 10. In 2011 her form returned and Sharapova made it to the semi-finals of Wimbledon and Roland Garros. She reached the world number 2 rankings and finished the year at number 4.
In 2012, Sharapova won the elusive French Open title and returned to the world number 1. She also won the silver medal in London Olympics that year, losing to familiar foe Serena Williams in the final. Another thing from her kitty that we need to know about Maria Sharapova.
Injuries: Controversies And Suspension
Sharapova again received the shoulder injury in 2013.She won the 2014 French Open and also reached Australian Open 2015 finals. However the constant tryst with injuries was physically grinding and mentally taxing for her. This caused the Russian to miss frequent tournaments. The lowest point of her career however came in 2016 Australian Open.
Sharapova failed the drug test as she was tested positive with the banned substance meldonium in her body. The World anti doping agency handed her a ban of 24 months from competitive tennis. It was later reduced to 15 months. Though not a positive side but another thing that we need to know about Maria Sharapova.
Sharapova returned to the game in April 2017. She was however never the same player again. More than a year of court absence has affected her game as well as mentality.
The Russian won a few titles and broke into the top 25 of the world ranking. However constant injuries kept resurfacing making her path even difficult. In Australian Open 2020 she was defeated in the first round itself. She fell outside the top 350 of the world rankings and finally called it a day. Maria Sharapova however finishes her illustrious career as one of the greats of the game.
The Lasting Legacy
Maria Sharapova was not just a WTA professional player. She was rather a tennis celebrity. The Russian has been regarded among the 30 legends of women’s tennis; past, present and future by Time. She was also among the 100 greatest players of all times list by tennis channel. The former world number 1 was the highest paid tennis athlete in the world for eleven consecutive years. Her legacy has been so awesome that we need to know it for sure when we read about Maria Sharapova.
Her rivalry with Serena Williams also made a lot of tennis drama both on the court and away from it. It is fair to say that Sharapova’s legacy falls much beyond match wins and court performances. She helped the game to spread by her charisma and popularity. The tall Russian starlet will truly be remembered as the rock-star of tennis. She also inspires many young players in tennis with her game and charisma.