Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 32.
The former world No 1, who won Wimbledon in 2004 when she was just 17 years old, has struggled with ongoing problems with her shoulder and has slumped to 373 in the rankings.
She had won only three matches since reaching the fourth round of the 2019 Australian Open and was knocked out in the first round at this year’s tournament in Melbourne by Donna Vekic.
In 2016, Sharapova tested positive for the drug meldonium and was banned for two years – later reduced to 15 months on appeal – and returned to action in April 2017.
She was only able to reach one Grand Slam quarter-final and a high of world No 21 after her ban expired.
Sharapova told Vanity Fair on Wednesday: “I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis – I’m saying goodbye.
“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’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.
“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.
After 28 years and five Grand Slam titles, though, I’m ready to scale another mountain-to compete on a different type of terrain.