26 February 2020

A look back at the stunning tennis career of Maria Sharapova as she announces her retirement

Former World No 1 and five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 32.

The Russian star has much to look back on, from the starry-eyed 17-year-old who shocked Wimbledon's Centre Court, to international icon, WTA World No 1 and one of only ten women to win a career slam - all four major titles. Sharapova has seen it all.

The blonde Russian burst onto the senior scene in 2003, claiming her maiden WTA title at the Japan Open aged 16 and finished the season as WTA Newcomer of the Year.

Sharapova won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2004, becoming the third youngest female champion (PA Images)

She continued in emphatic style when, against all odds, she shocked Serena Williams and claimed her first Grand Slam title with victory at Wimbledon in 2004.

As if a maiden slam wasn't enough, she finished a phenomenal season with a win at the WTA Finals in Los Angeles, lifting the trophy on her debut appearance at the tournament.

A young Sharapova is overcome with emotion after beating Serena Williams at her first WTA Tour Finals (PA Images)

Within a year, the 6ft Russian had rocketed up the rankings and by the end of 2005 was top of the world aged just 18.

Her rise continued and in 2006 she added another Grand Slam to her belt with a straight sets win (6-4 6-4) over France's Justine Henin-Hardenne to claim the US Open title.

Sharapova is overjoyed as she receives the US Open trophy (USOpen)

As if the on-court titles weren't enough, in the same year she was named Forbes’ highest-paid female athlete in the world, a list she would top for the next decade.

A young Sharapova struggles under the weight - and size - of a giant cheque (PA Images)

But along with the many highs, Sharapova was to learn there were also the lows.

In 2007, after suffering a heavy 1-6 2-6 Australian Open final defeat at the hands of Serena Williams, her now infamous shoulder injury first reared its head.

Unperturbed, she returned to the tournament the following year and, in fairytale style, claimed the title, beating Ana Ivanovic 7-5 6-3 to take her slam tally to three.

Sharapova holds the trophy aloft at the Australian Open (PA Images)

It wasn't just her solo efforts that made her remarkable. She was a member of the Russian Fed Cup winning team in 2008, winning her two rubbers against Israel to reach the semi-finals.

But luck was not on her side and the recurrent shoulder injury forced her out of the second half of the 2008 season meaning she missed the Beijing Olympics and the US Open.

She would have to wait an agonising four more years before she finally achieved the landmark feat 'Career Grand Slam' after winning the French Open in 2012.

Sharapova sinks to her knees after winning the career slam (PA Images)

Later that year she added to her trophy cabinet at the London 2012 Olympics with a silver medal, having been the flag-bearer for Russia at the opening ceremony.

2014 saw the star win her fifth, and final Grand Slam after yet more injury woes had kept her from her top form.

She entered the French Open seeded second in the world and stormed to victory defeating first-time finalist Simona Halep 6–4, 6–7(5–7), 6–4 in an extremely tense final.

Sharapova kisses her last Grand Slam trophy (PA Images)

Her last major shot a Grand Slam title came the following year at the Australian Open, but the dominance of Serena Williams proved too much, with the Russian losing in straight sets.

Sharapova won her 36th and final WTA trophy in 2017, beating Aryna Sabalenka in the Tianjin Open final.

Her final title came at the Tianjin Open in 2017 when she defeated Aryna Sabalenka (PA Images)

She netted prize money alone of $38.8 million (35.7m euros) in a career spanning over 15 years and also established herself as an entrepreneur launching her own line of sweets titled 'Sugarpova'.

The court will be much quieter without the trademark grunts accompanying every Sharapova return, but also the poorer as it loses a true star of women's tennis.

A young Sharapova blows a kiss to the crowd (PA Images)

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