Last month came the announcement of Maria Sharapova's retirement from tennis at the age of 32, a choice dictated by her inability to return to a high level and by too many injuries that have plagued her in recent years.
Masha competed on the WTA tour from 2001 to 2020 and had been ranked world No.1 in singles by the WTA on five separate occasions, for a total of 21 weeks. She is one of ten women, and the only Russian, to hold the career Grand Slam.
She is also an Olympic medalist, having won a silver medal in women's singles at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The Russian achieved a rare level of longevity in tennis, with several tennis pundits and former players calling Sharapova one of tennis's best competitors.
In a recent interview to World Team Tennis, the former World number 1 expressed her warm feelings towards the event and how it has helped her in her career. “I’ve been part of this event ever since I was a little girl, ever since I won major titles.
It was the event that gave me the experience I needed at that age. I would travel from city to city, competing every single night. I remember leaving World Team Tennis and going on to win a smaller WTA event and it was really the beginning of my career" - Sharapova said.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunities to still be able to come out on the courts. Sorry, I’m not playing this evening, but for a good reason. Great memories to be back here" - she added.