Maria Sharapova announces her retirement from professional tennis

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Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement from tennis with immediate effect.

The Russian, who has been plagued with injury problems in recent years, has finally decided to call it quits on her career in an emotional statement.

The 32-year-old won every singles Grand Slam available in her illustrious career, winning Wimbledon once, the Australian Open once, the US Open once and the French Open twice.

She shot to stardom when she defeated Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final back in 2004, defeating the American when she was just a teenager in straight sets 6-1, 6-4.

In an exclusive essay written for Vogue and Vanity Fair, Sharapova said: "How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known?

"How do you walk away from the courts you’ve trained on since you were a little girl, the game that you love—one which brought you untold tears and unspeakable joys—a sport where you found a family, along with fans who rallied behind you for more than 28 years?

"I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis - I’m saying goodbye.

"Tennis showed me the world - and it showed me what I was made of. It’s how I tested myself and how I measured my growth.

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"And so in whatever I might choose for my next chapter, my next mountain, I’ll still be pushing. I’ll still be climbing. I’ll still be growing."

In a career that has had plenty of ups and downs, Sharapova will certainly go down as one of the greats, not just for the female game, but for the game in general.

Happy retirement, Maria.

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