Former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova spoke about how her tennis career has helped lay the foundation for her success as an entrepreneur. Speaking at the online webinar, the WSJ Future of Everything Festival, the Russian says, "The relationship-building is one of the most incredible assets that I've gained along this journey.
"The relationship aspect has been incredibly valuable, and I continue to do that with the new partnerships I've gained and investments that I've made at this point in my career. The building of that is so important.
"I've grown and I've learned, and I've really gotten an MBA on the job... I love it. I love the challenge of it. I think there are a lot of elements of my sport that I take into the world of business, and I'm still learning every single day."
The Russian also spoke about how she always kept interests outside of tennis even as a teenager with an eye on the her post-tennis future - something that also helped her avoid burnout on the court. "I always carry a big-picture frame of mind because when I was growing up and I'd have tough losses, my father would say, 'It's not a sprint.
It's a marathon.' and although I knew what my life and my schedule would look like in sport, your trajectory is never predicted. "You can work as hard as you can, you can be a very talented athlete, but you take one wrong turn, and you end up at the end of you career.
I know what it's like to go through those peaks and valleys. "As I was looking to my future and realizing as a female, even though when I was a little girl, I wanted to play this sport for the rest of my life... I realized, probably in my late teens, that there would be other things in my life that I would have an interest in.
"I was always working towards what the future after tennis might look like." "When I would come off the court, that was the time when I couldn't commit any more mental or physical effort... for that time after I prioritized that, and gave out all the physical movements and intensity that I could, I was very eager to learn and be curious about other things.
"I didn't know where it would take me, and I didn't exactly know what my other passions would be, but it was important to me because it kept my mind fresh when I'd be back on the court. "I think if I spent 24 hours hearing, listening and watching everything about the game, that maybe would've put a little more pressure [on me], but because I had other interests and curiosities, I think it really helped me be better focused when I went on the court every single day."
The Russian also added that she felt her retirement was well timed in hindsight as she would find it difficult to remain motivated during the current shutdown in case she was still competing on the professional tour. Sharapova retired in January this year after winning five Grand Slam singles titles in her career at the age of 32.
"In hindsight, [my retirement] was great timing, because I'd be sitting here saying, 'When do I train?', 'What do I train for?' There are so many question marks around sport in general.