(SOUNDBITE) (English) MARIA SHARAPOVA FROM MARCH 7, 2016 SAYING:“I know that many of you thought that I would be retiring today and announcing my retirement, but if I was ever going to announce my retirement it would probably not be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet."
That’s former world No. 1 tennis player Maria Sharapova roughly four years ago - which is the amount of time it did take the five-time Grand Slam champion to finally retire from the sport... not from a hotel room with “fairly ugly carpet,” but within the fashionable pages of Vanity Fair magazine.
In an article published Wednesday, the 32-year-old Russian wrote, “How do you leave behind the only life you have ever known? I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis – I’m saying goodbye.”
Born in Siberia, Sharapova was propelled to superstardom at age 17 when she beat Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final for her first Grand Slam title.
Known for her ferocious intensity and pounding ground strokes, Sharapova won all four Grand Slam tournaments over the course of her career, taking home almost $40 million in total prize money – a figure dwarfed by her off-court earnings, which according to Forbes, made her the highest-paid female athlete 11 years in a row.
But her decision to retire is not a major surprise - as she has been plagued by injuries over the years, and, in 2016, was banned from the tennis for 15 months for failing a drug test.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) MARIA SHARAPOVA FROM SAYING:
“I did fail the test and I take full responsibility for it.”
The drug was heart medication meldonium, which the sport prohibited.
Sharapova will now keep busy with her confectionary company, Sugarpova, proceeds from which go to a charity she set up to help victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident from which her parents fled.
Writing in Vanity Fair, she said "In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life. I'll miss it every day.”