Novak Djokovic pays tribute to Maria Sharapova's career following her retirement

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Tennis stars from the past and present have this week been paying tribute to five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova following the announcement of her retirement.

The current world number one male tennis player Novak Djokovic was among one of the first to pay tribute to the Russian tennis star’s career.

Following his quarter-final victory at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship on Wednesday, the Serb said: "It's truly inspirational to see what mind of a champion she has. I'm sorry that it had to end with an injury obviously but at the same time she had a fantastic career and she can be proud of herself."

Twice Wimbledon champion, and one of Sharapova’s main sporting rivals Petra Kvitova, who has had to overcome the challenges of returning to competition following a knife attack, also said: “She’s been amazing competitor, she never gives up, even if she didn’t play well she was still believing in her game and still being aggressive and believing in her shots, which I’m really admiring.”

Finally, tennis great and fellow career Grand Slam winner Billie Jean King said: “From the day Maria Sharapova won her first Wimbledon title at age 17, she has been a great champion. A five-time major champion and a former world number one, her business success is just as impressive as her tennis achievements. Maria, the best is yet to come for you!"

In an article written for Vogue and Vanity Fair, the Russian had said her body “had become a distraction” after a struggle with a number of shoulder injuries.

The Russian leaves the sport in the knowledge that she became the 10th woman to win the career Grand Slam, the highlight almost certainly being the dramatic fashion that she burst onto the world scene as a 17-year-old by beating Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final.

Sharapova’s career earnings reportedly reached £38.8 million, making her the third highest earning female athlete ever after the Williams sisters.

Off the court as well she benefited from lucrative sponsorship deals and had started her own brands including the candy ‘Sugarpova’ and the sunscreen brand ‘Sugargroop.’

One thing is certainly clear, while Sharapova is retiring from tennis, it is likely it will not be the last we will hear about arguably one of the most recognisable female sports stars in recent times.

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