After playing the sport since she was four years old, women's tennis star Maria Sharapova is hanging up her tennis racket.
The 32-year-old Sharapova announced her retirement from tennis in a farewell essay published Wednesday in Vanity Fair, citing injuries. Throughout her career, Sharapova dealt with various shoulder problems, and she said she realized one U.S. Open match last August that she couldn't realistically compete at the level she need to anymore. "I share this not to garner pity, but to paint my new reality: My body had become a distraction," she wrote.
It wasn't easy to say goodbye to the sport, she said, noting that "tennis gave me a life" and she'll "miss it everyday." But she also said her career prepared her well for whatever she does next. "And so in whatever I might choose for my next chapter, my next mountain, I'll still be pushing," she wrote.
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Over the span of her career, Sharapova emerged as one of the defining players of her generation, capturing five Grand Slam singles titles, including a Wimbledon victory over top-ranked Serena Williams in 2004 when Sharapova was just 17 years old. She was also a recognizable figure off the court where she was the world's highest-earning women's athlete for 11 straight years thanks in part to endorsements from companies like Nike and Evian. Read Sharapova's essay at Vanity Fair and more about her career at The New York Times.
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