On Wednesday, tennis star Maria Sharapova announced that she is officially retiring from the sport.
In an essay for Vogue and Vanity Fair, the five-time grand slam winner said she is "saying goodbye" to tennis, a sport where she says she "found a family."
32-year-old Sharapova detailed how she got her start in tennis, writing, "When I first started playing, the girls on the other side of the net were always older, taller, and stronger; the tennis greats I watched on TV seemed untouchable and out of reach. But little by little, with every day of practice on the court, this almost mythical world became more and more real."
She last won the grand slam in 2014 at the French Open, and her last professional game was at the 2020 Australian Open, where she was eliminated in the first round by Donna Vekić.
"In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life," she wrote. "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."
In 2016, Sharapova tested positive for banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open, and was initially banned from tennis for two years, before the ban was reduced to 15 months.
"I felt trapped, tricked, but I figured all I had to do was explain myself," she said at the time.
In her essay, she wrote that in light of her retirement, she's looking forward to spending time with her family.
"Tennis showed me the world—and it showed me what I was made of," she wrote. "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."
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