Tennis legend Martina Navratilova says five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova will always be remembered for her 'sheer competitiveness, for her never giving anything less than her absolute best.' In a column for the WTA Tour, the 18-time Grand Slam champion says, "Sharapova was a competitor on the tennis court, as intense and as ferocious as anyone who has ever played the sport.
And while competitiveness is celebrated in men, and seen as a big plus, women are quite often put down for it. I can relate to that, and I think that was sometimes tough for Sharapova...Sharapova, didn't ever change who she was as a person, or let go of who she was as an athlete, just because other people didn't happen to like her competitive nature.
Let me put it this way, you wouldn't have wanted her as your opponent, she wouldn't take her foot off the gas even for a moment.. Throughout her career, Sharapova marched to the beat of her own drum - she wasn't in tennis to win popularity contests, whether with the public or her peers, and perhaps she wasn't always as appreciated as she could have been, but she did what she needed to win, and that worked for her...
Right to the end of her career, Sharapova still had the same mental toughness that had always defined her. That never left her. That's why the last couple of years must have been so tough for her, as she was trying just as hard as she had always done.
Her mind hadn't changed, but her body was saying: 'Naah, it's not going to happen anymore.' That had to be frustrating for her because the effort was there but the results weren't, so I wasn't surprised to hear she had decided to hang it up.
I had been expecting this news for a while. Navratilova says Sharapova's career will always be defined by her record against Serena Williams.. "Unfortunately for Sharapova, you can be the most mentally tough player in the world but sometimes there will be a player you just don't match up that well against, and that was Williams.
That match-up against Williams just didn't favor her, particularly as the American certainly served a lot better. Sharapova was good enough against everyone else but Williams always got up for her matches against the Russian. To her credit, Sharapova never relented in those matches, that wasn't in her nature."