"In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life," Sharapova writes in the essay. "I’ll miss it every day. I’ll miss the training and my daily routine: Waking up at dawn, lacing my left shoe before my right, and closing the court’s gate before I hit my first ball of the day. I’ll miss my team, my coaches. I’ll miss the moments sitting with my father on the practice court bench. The handshakes — win or lose — and the athletes, whether they knew it or not, who pushed me to be my best."
Sharapova's career has been unrivalled. After winning Wimbledon at the age of 17, the athlete began an incredible run. She competed in over 800 matches, finishing with a record of 645-171. She's won 36 Women's Tennis Association titles, four International Tennis Federation titles, five Grand Slam titles, and a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Although Sharapova was suspended back in 2016 for failing a drug test, she returned to the game in 2017 and returned to win the Tianjin Open.
But according to her essay, she started seeing signs that it was time to wind down her career in August 2019, when she competed in the US Open. "Behind closed doors, thirty minutes before taking the court, I had a procedure to numb my shoulder to get through the match. Shoulder injuries are nothing new for me — over time my tendons have frayed like a string," she writes. "Just stepping onto the court that day felt like a final victory, when of course it should have been merely the first step toward victory. I share this not to garner pity, but to paint my new reality: My body had become a distraction."
And she shares a few words of wisdom with all of us: "I want anyone who dreams of excelling in anything to know that doubt and judgment are inevitable: You will fail hundreds of times, and the world will watch you. Accept it. Trust yourself. I promise that you will prevail."
As for what's next for the tennis star, time will tell. "Looking back now, I realise that tennis has been my mountain. My path has been filled with valleys and detours, but the views from its peak were incredible," she writes. "I’m ready to scale another mountain — to compete on a different type of terrain."