MOSCOW, Russia – Tennis player Maria Sharapova, who announced her retirement from the courts on Wednesday, lived a true American dream. She was born in Siberia, where her family fled the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, emigrated to the United States at the age of six and became the world’s number one at 18.
“When I was six years old, I crossed the globe to get to Florida with my father. The world seemed giant to me then,” she wrote today, announcing her retirement in an article in fashion magazines “Vogue” and “Vanity Fair.”
True to her style, Sharapova, 32, announced in two fashion magazines her “goodbye” to tennis, a sport that allowed her to become an icon of sports worldwide, both for her talents on the courts and for her physical conditions and their ability to collect covers.
HAD THE RACKET AT FOUR YEARS
Now, everything is glitter in the life of Masha (short for Maria), but its beginnings were not easy. As she relates in her article, she first saw a tennis match at age four.
“It was so small that my little legs dangled from the bench I was sitting on. So small that the racket I wielded was twice as big as me,” he says.
That was in the Russian resort of Sochi (Russia), where he met Yevgueni Káfelnikov, who gave him a racket. Another tennis legend crossed her path, Martina Navratilova, who recommended that her parents take her to the United States.
IN SEARCH OF THE AMERICAN DREAM
They listened to him in 1994, albeit with only $ 700 in the pockets of his father, Yuri, his main mentor in the early years of his career.
The famous Nick Bolletieri, discoverer of talents such as Agassi or Courier, soon appreciated Maria’s natural talent, while her father paid the rent and the bills working in construction.
At 9 years old, Sharapova had already won her first advertising contracts with Prince, the tennis racket brand, and Nike, and at 15 she was a junior finalist for the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
The link occurred on Saturday at Sa Fortalesa, a farm located in Pollença, north of the island of Mallorca.
She rose to world fame in 2004 by defeating the almighty Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final, whose audience fell in love with that 1.88-meter blonde girl.
“Wimbledon seemed like a good place to start. He was innocent at age 17, still collecting stamps,” he acknowledges in his article.
THE TOP OF THE WORLD
She became the world number one in 2005, although her second Grand Slam victory had to wait until 2006 at the United States Open.
Although he only won once in Australia (2008), he had a beautiful idyll in that tournament, the end of which he reached on three other occasions.
So Sharapova’s career was cut short by injuries, especially to the shoulder, a curse that haunted him until his retirement more than a decade later.
Those injuries forced him to change the way he played. The result was immediate, since in 2012 and 2014 he won on Roland Garros clay, something unthinkable at the beginning of his career.
“The land of the French Open exposed all my weaknesses. To begin with, my inability to slip and forced me to overcome them. Twice. It was fine,” he said.
For several seasons he fought a fierce duel with Serena Williams, although she defeated him three times in the Grand Slam finals and in the end left her behind to conquer 23 grand.
He also achieved his dream of being an Olympic medalist – silver at the London 2012 Games – and won the Federation Cup in 2008 with Russia, whose citizenship he retains despite living in the US for most of his life.
“My mental strength has always been my best weapon. Even if my opponent was stronger, more self-assured, even if I played better, I could win and I did it,” she said.
DOPING, ITS LOWEST MOMENT
His lowest moment was in 2016 when the Russian tennis player was suspended for two years by the International Tennis Federation for consumption of Meldonium, a drug that is used to combat cardiovascular problems.
Sharapova asked for forgiveness and a second chance, not in vain did its inventor and Russian President Vladimir Putin not consider Meldonium a doping substance.
Although more than one tennis player turned his back on him, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the sanction to fifteen months.
During the sanction he showed that he had a bright future off the slopes. He wrote a biography, studied at Harward, and participated in movies and television shows.
Paradoxically, it returned to the slopes on April 26, 2017, coinciding with the anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy, but it was never the same again.
She decided to collect her gear and leave the tracks at the last US Open, where she was once again infiltrated on her shoulder, after which she understood that the mere fact of stepping on the track was already a victory.
In total, he played more than 800 games throughout his career with 36 titles and his last game was played in January of this year at the Australian Open, where he fell in the first round against Donna Vekic (6-3 and 6- 4).
“How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known? By giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life. I will miss it every day. I will miss training and my daily routine. Get up at dawn, tie first my left shoe and close the door of the track before giving the first racket of the day, “he asks now.
Sharapova seems to have the answer: “Tennis has been my mountain. My path has been full of valleys and turns, but the view from the top was incredible. All in all, after 28 years and five Grand Slam, I am ready to climb another mountain, to compete on another type of surface. ”