On February 26, 2020, through two interviews granted to the magazines Vanity Fair and Vogue, Maria Sharapova announced his retirement from professional tennis, at the age of 32. As a wildcard at the 2020 Australian Open, the Russian was defeated in straight sets by Donna Vekić in the first round.
This marked her third consecutive first-round loss at a Grand Slam tournament and, following the tournament, her ranking fell to no. 369, her lowest ranking since August 2002. That defeat to Vekic in Melbourne would prove to be Sharapova's final match of her career.
“One of the keys to my success was that I never looked back and I never looked forward,” Sharapova told Vanity Fair. “I believed that if I kept grinding and grinding, I could push myself to an incredible place.
But there is no mastering tennis – you must simply keep heeding the demands of the court while trying to quiet those incessant thoughts in the back of your mind. Did you do enough—and more—to prepare for your next opponent? You’ve taken a few days off—your body’s losing that edge.
That extra slice of pizza? Better make up for it with a great morning session. Listening to this voice so intimately, anticipating its every ebb and flow, is also how I accepted those final signals when they came. One of them came last August at the US Open.
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. I’ve had multiple surgeries—once in 2008; another procedure last year—and spent countless months in physical therapy.
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”.