5-time Grand Slam tennis champion Maria Sharapova announces retirement

Maria Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion on the women’s tennis circuit, announced her retirement Wednesday.

Sharapova, 32, who had been slowed down by injuries and was suspended for using a banned substance, made her announcement in an essay published Wednesday in Vanity Fair and Vogue.

“I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis -- I’m saying goodbye,” Sharapova wrote in the magazine.

Sharapova, who was born in Nyagan, Russia, won 36 singles titles during her career, won Wimbledon in 2004, the U.S. Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008 and the French Open in 2012 and 2014. She earned the WTA's No. 1 world ranking in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2012, ESPN reported. However, Sharapova's current ranking is at No. 373. She has played two matches this season and has lost of them, falling in the first round of the Australian Open to Croatia's Donna Vekic in straight sets.

Sharapova, who turned pro as a 14-year-old in 2001, came to prominence three years later when she defeated top-ranked Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final, The New York Times reported.

Sharapova wrote in Vanity Fair that she was "a naive 17-year-old, still collecting stamps, and didn't understand the magnitude of my victory until I was older -- and I'm glad I didn't."

Although Sharapova was an intense performer on the court, her biggest impact came with the endorsement deals. According to Forbes, the 6-foot, 2-inch Sharapova was the highest-earning women's athlete for 11 consecutive years. She had endorsement deals with Nike and Evian and was earning nearly $30 million when she was suspended two years for using a banned substance, the Times reported.

Sharapova was penalized in 2016 for using meldonium, a drug for heart patients that is supposed to improve blood flow and help athletes recover faster, the Times reported. She claimed she had been taking the drug for 10 years and said she was unaware it had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances, the newspaper reported.

Sharapova appealed the suspension, which was later reduced to 15 months, the Times reported.

Sharapova first picked up a tennis racket when she was 4. After 28 years, she is ready to put it away.

"In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life. I'll miss it every day," Sharapova wrote in Vanity Fair. "Looking back now, I realize that tennis has been my mountain. My path has been filled with valleys and detours, but the views from its peak were incredible."

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