Maria Sharapova retires at 32: “That’s why I say goodbye to tennis”

Maria Sharapova si ritira a 32 anni: "Ecco perché dico addio al tennis"

Maria Sharapova retires at 32: "That's why I say goodbye to tennis" (photo Ansa)

ROME – Maria Sharapova, 32, has announced her retirement from competitions. The Siberian tennis player , winner of five slams and former No. 1 in the world, broke the news with a letter to Vanity Fair and Vogue in which she reflects on her career, looks to the future and wonders "how do you leave the only one behind life you've ever known? ".

Maria Sharapova retires: “Tennis showed me the world and showed me what I'm made of. Now I'm saying goodbye. "

Sharapova chose a video posted on the Vogue channel to communicate the news. His statements are reported by the Corriere dello Sport.

“How can you leave the only life you've ever known behind you? How you move away from the fields you have trained on since you were a little girl, the game you love – which brought you unspeakable tears and unspeakable joys – a sport in which you found a family, together with the fans who gathered behind you for more than 28 years? I know this, so please forgive me. Tennis, I'm saying goodbye. Before I get to the end though, I'd like to start from the beginning.

The first time I remember seeing a tennis court, my father used to play it. I was four years old in Sochi, Russia, so small that my tiny legs hung off the bench I was sitting on. So small that the racket I collected next to me was twice my size. When I was six, I traveled all over the world and also to Florida with my father. At the time, the whole world seemed gigantic.

The plane, the airport, the vast American expanse: everything was huge, as was the sacrifice of my parents. When I started playing, the girls on the other side of the net were getting older, taller and stronger; the tennis greats I saw on TV seemed untouchable and out of reach. But gradually, with each day of field tests, this almost mythical world has become increasingly real.

The first courts I ever played on were uneven concrete with faded lines. Over time, they have become clay and the most beautiful and well-kept grass on which your feet can ever step on. But never in my wildest dreams have I thought of winning on the biggest stages of sport and on every surface. Wimbledon seemed like a good place to start.

I was a naive seventeen year old, I still collected stamps and didn't understand the extent of my victory until I got older, and I'm glad I didn't. My advantage, however, was never to feel superior to other players.

It was about feeling on the verge of falling off a cliff, which is why I was constantly returning to the pitch to figure out how to keep climbing. The US Open showed me how to overcome distractions and expectations. If you couldn't handle the confusion in New York, well, the airport was next door. Dosvidanya.

The Australian Open took me to a place that had never been part of me before – with extreme certainty that some people call being "in the zone".

I can't really explain it, but it was a good place to stay. The land at the French Open revealed practically all of my weaknesses – to begin with, my inability to slide over it – and forced me to overcome them. Twice. It was nice.

These places have revealed my true essence. Behind the photoshoots and the beautiful tennis clothes, they exposed my imperfections: every wrinkle, every drop of sweat. They tested my character, my will, my ability to channel my raw emotions to a place where they worked for me rather than against me.

Between their lines, my vulnerabilities felt safe. How lucky am I to have found a kind of ground on which I felt so exposed and yet so comfortable? One of the keys to my success is that I never looked back and never looked forward.

I believed that if I continued to grind and grind, I could have gone to an incredible place. But there is no mastery of tennis: you simply have to continue meeting the needs of the court as you try to calm those incessant thoughts in the back of your mind: Have you done enough and much more to prepare for your next opponent?

You took a few days off, your body is losing that advantage. That extra slice of pizza? Better to remedy with a fantastic morning session.

Listening to this voice so intimately, anticipating every ebb and flow, is also the way I accepted those final signals when they arrived. One of these arrived at the United States Open last August. Behind closed doors, thirty minutes before entering the pitch, I had a procedure to avoid feeling shoulder pain to get through the match.

Shoulder injuries are nothing new to me: over time my tendons have frayed like a rope. I have had multiple surgeries once in 2008; another time last year and I spent countless months in physical therapy.

Taking the field that day seemed like a final victory, when obviously it should have been only the first step towards victory. I share this not out of pity, but to paint my new reality: my body had become a distraction.

Is it worth it? It was never even a question – in the end, it always was. My mental strength has always been my strongest weapon. Even if my opponent was physically stronger, more confident, even simply better, I could have persevered.

I never really felt compelled to talk about work, effort or determination: every athlete understands the unspoken sacrifices he must make to be successful. But as I embark on my next chapter, I want anyone who dreams of excelling in anything to know that doubt and judgment are inevitable: you will fail hundreds of times and the world will watch you. Accept it.

Believe in yourself. I promise it will work. In giving my life to tennis, tennis has given me a life. I will miss him every day. I will miss training and my daily routine: waking up at dawn, fastening the left shoe in front of my right and closing the field gate before hitting my first ball of the day.

I will miss my team, my coaches. I will miss the moments sitting with my father on the driving range bench. The handshakes – winning or losing – and the athletes, whether they knew it or not, that pushed me to do my best. Looking back now, I realize that tennis has been my mountain.

My path was filled with valleys and detours, but the views from its top were incredible. After 28 years and five Grand Slam titles, I am ready to climb another mountain, to compete on a different type of terrain. That unceasing desire for wins, though? It will never decrease.

Regardless of what awaits us, I will apply the same attention, the same work ethic and all the lessons I have learned along the way. In the meantime, there are a few simple things I can't wait for: a sense of calm with my family. Slow down over a cup of morning coffee.

Unexpected weekend getaways. Workouts of my choice (hello, dance lesson!). Tennis showed me the world and showed me what I'm made of. It's how I tested myself and how I measured my growth.

And so in whatever I could choose for my next chapter, my next mountain, I will keep pushing. I will continue climbing. I will continue to grow "(sources Vogue and Il Corriere dello Sport).

Source: Blitz Quotidiano

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