Maria Sharapova retires from tennis — here’s what we will miss most about her game
"Tennis — I'm saying goodbye," announced Maria Sharapova over an Instagram post last week. Sharapova is, and will be remembered as one of the biggest talents in the sport — a scintillating career spanning five Grand Slams, 36 career wins, and a former world number 1 ranking.
The 32-year-old shot to fame after winning Wimbledon in 2004 at age 17, upsetting Serena Williams in a nail-biting final. Sharapova is one of the rare seven in the Open Era who has clinched trophies at the four Grand Slams, winning the US Open in 2006, Australian Open in 2008, and French Open in 2012 and 2014. Her grunts were famously debated, and her stunning looks a small part of the reason why people were drawn to her matches.
Off court, she was arguably even more successful. Forbes estimated her total earnings, from winning career titles, appearances, and her plethora of endorsements, to be US$325 million (S$453 million), which puts her second amongst the highest-paid female athletes, only behind Serena Williams' US$350 million. Nike was her biggest sponsor, but she also fronted the likes of Porsche, Tag Heuer, and Evian Water. Sharapova also started her own candy brand — cheekily named Sugarpova.
As we look forward to Sharapova's next chapter, we round up the things that we grew to love and will miss about this young woman on court.
The queen of grunts
Sharapova has another accolade to add to her growing list — she is the loudest grunter in the sport, and often reaches 100 decibels during her games. Whether it's a release of energy, or getting into the rhythm of their game, the grunt has become her trademark sound. While there's two differing camps on her excruciating grunts, it's one of those things we'll miss when it's gone.
That aggressive playing style
When Sharapova is having a field day, there are very few in the game that have the ability to get past her powerful, deep groundstrokes. She is a brilliant baseliner that had a superb touch with angles — and a tricky reverse forehand that has gotten her where she is today.
Her seemingly effortless on-court style
Touted one of the fashion leaders on the women's tour, Sharapova's long-time collaboration with Nike ensured she always looked sharp during her matches. From customised dresses inspired by New York's historic Studio 54 to her white tuxedo and shorts combination at Wimbledon, her outfits were often made a talking point.
That Serena Williams rivalry
It started when Sharapova beat Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final, where she detailed in her autobiography later that Williams has never forgiven her for it. She wrote, "Not long after the tournament, I heard Serena told a friend — who then told me — 'I will never lose to that little b**** again'." She would go on to lose the next 19 matches to Williams over 16 years, their last match during last year's US Open when Williams emerged triumphant with a telling 6-1, 6-1 scoreline. The pair made for great tennis and the crowds came for them without fail.
Her relentless love for the game
Despite having not won a Grand Slam for the last six years, battling a recurring shoulder injury, and undergoing multiple surgeries, Sharapova's love affair for tennis never wavered. She bounced back quickly after her 15-month ban from the game in 2016 after taking a banned drug meldonium (which she didn't realise was on the prohibited list) and has kept going right ta first-round encounter at this year's Australian Open — her very last match on tour.