Maria Sharapova, the five-time Grand Slam champion and former No.1-ranked women’s tennis player in the world, has called it quits.
The 32-year-old made the announcement not at a press conference, but in an essay she wrote for Vanity Fair and Vogue. Her choice of venue shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise. Off the court, Sharapova has built a successful career in business and modeling.
In walking away from her 19-year professional career, she spoke directly to the game she loves, saying, “Tennis — I’m saying goodbye.”
“How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known?” Sharapova asks in her essay published Wednesday.
She describes the extremes of the game – the “untold tears and unspeakable joys” it brought her, adding that it’s “a sport where [she] found a family, along with fans who rallied [her] for more than 28 years.”
She also tweeted a picture of her as a young girl posing with a racquet along with the message: “Tennis showed me the world — and it showed me what I was made of.”
The Russian-born Sharapova turned professional in 2001 at the age of 14. She won Wimbledon three years later, in 2004, by upsetting Serena Williams in the final. She outlasted all other competitors to win the U.S. Open in 2006 and then the Australian Open in 2008. Her final Grand Slam titles came at Roland-Garros, winning the French Open in both 2012 and 2014.