"I know with this I face consequences and I don't want to end my career this way...," Maria Sharapova had said in her speech at a Los Angeles hotel meeting room in 2016 concerning her failed drug test. It has been three years this month that everyone was shocked on the revelation, but ending her career then meant because of the ramifications of failing a drug test.
Today it's possibly being chronically injured or going up against strong competitors that may have her thinking of retirement in the near future. She had even mentioned it in the 'Tennisworldusa' article a few days ago saying "I don't know for how long I am going to play on the tour..."
referring to her chance now to play the St. Petersburg Open since ten years ago when she participated. She looked forward to participating in the Russian event and won her opening round against Australia's Daria Gavrilova 6-0, 6-4.
Sharapova was glad to win the first round and expected to continue, but a chronic shoulder injury flared up and she had to retire at the second round to be played with a lady Russian Daria Kasatkina who won by a walkover.
Sharapova left and promised to get a full medical checkup to announce soon her return on tour. But the retirement and walk over are nothing new to the Russian icon. Since her return on tour after the drug ban in April of 2017, she's had to cope with being on tour facing adversity from the tennis community, being given wildcards to play in tournaments to dealing with the physical rigors of the game and having the mental stamina to keep focus and win.
Sharapova also was expected to go deep in as many tournaments as possible, taking into account of her illustrious past performances. These factors were all compromised as she did get wildcards and did go deep in a few tournaments like the semifinals at Stuttgart when she first came back, but she also experienced losing in openers as the Madrid Open and others.
It was at the Italian Open she had her first retirement upon returning on tour. It was the third set with a thigh injury and then skipping the grass season because of the ailment. The hard court season she'd only go one round then withdraw with a left arm injury.
She'd went through the fourth round of the 2017 US Open and afterwards won her first WTA title since 2015 at the Tianjin Open without dropping a set. Last year the 2018 tour kicked in full circle but for Sharapova it was the same repetition of the previous season with going to the semis than losing in openers and then the injuries would kick in as a forearm strain at Dubai that would last for weeks through to the Miami Open.
Sharapova had to play like everyone else opponents in the top 10s and 20s rankings despite the result of the match. The heavy hitters as Simona Halep, the 18-year-old Sofia Henin, and Anastasija Sevastova she had all defeated proving that she still had game.
But Naomi Osaka, Garbine Muguruza, Caroline Garcia and veteran Carla Suarez Navarro as well as others, she had failed to dismantle their games leaving them to still be a viable threat to her court performances. She is now ranked for the 2019 season at number 29.
It is obvious that with constant playing there may be chronic injuries for Sharapova and it might seem better for her to reduce her touring schedule to obtain better results with more wins, less retirements, withdrawals and injuries.
At a press conference, a few years ago at the height of the discussions of her meldonium use, the media suspected that the use of the drug wasn't used only for maintaining health but stamina and endurance to win without injuries.
There are still doubts as to why the injuries have crept up and caused retirements and withdrawals that didn't occur long ago. There is really no sure-all answere to help Maria Sharapova's extended stay on tour being healthy and productive because she is one of the oldest players who'll have to face opponents oer 10 years younger, causing her to work harder to remain and sustain a good ranking to enter other prestigious tournaments.
This may be the recommended action she may do for it seems that being opposite the younger opponents and the grueling schedule wouldn't prove beneficial anymore.