One thing is certain — Maria Sharapova is still here. But the question is, for how long? The former world No.1 is down to No.369 in the rankings, following her third straight first-round Grand Slam exit and the 2019 season hampered by a shoulder injury.
In the current tennis era we often see players doing well in their older years, or even reaching their prime after the age of 30. At 32, the five-time major champ Sharapova is definitely not old to be a major challenge on the tour, but she’s going through an extremely rough patch and even the super competitive Russian puts out a vibe of uncertainty and vulnerability. I consider Sharapova sharp-minded and courageous when it comes to making important decisions, but in the case of the current state of her career those superior traits of her character seem to have taken a back seat. Don’t you think so?
Tennis players tend to struggle with depression after retirement, as the only way of life they know changes dramatically over night. Remember Dinara Safina’s interview for Behind the Racquet? However, in Sharapova’s case, I can’t imagine that happening, as she’s such a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur that she can have her hands full until the age of 90. Fear of retirement is not an option here.
Sharapova has not won a match since the Western & Southern Open in August 2019 and has not beaten a Top 20 opponent since Caroline Wozniacki in the third round of the 2019 Australian Open. It’s not that we haven’t seen players resurrecting after long bad periods and injuries, but for some reason Sharapova’s situation frequently sparks retirement discussions among tennis fans. Her press conference following the first-round loss to Donna Vekic at the 2020 Australian Open only further ignited retirement rumors.
When asked if she would be back in Melbourne next year, Sharapova, who entered the Grand Slam as a wildcard, replied: “I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you if I can or if I will, but I would love to.”
Moreover, Sharapova was very non-committal about her future:
“It’s tough for me to tell what’s going to happen in 12 months’ time… I haven’t thought of my schedule moving forward from here yet… I can speak about my struggles and the things that I’ve gone through with my shoulder, but it’s not really in my character to. So, you know, I was there. I put myself out there. You know, as tough as it was I finished the match and, yeah, it wasn’t the way that I wanted.”
As Tennis with an Accent reports, Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou commented on Sharapova’s Australian Open performance:
“She was an incredible competitor, but I don’t see that anymore. At some point you have to win matches because if you don’t it affects your performance. She’s [also] struggling to move and move fast enough on court.”
Bethanie Mattek-Sands also gave her opinion about Sharapova’s career prospects.
“Who knows if this is the last we’re going to see of her or if she’s going to continue playing. I think every player wants to do it on their own terms. Some want to go out on top, some want to fade in to the darkness. But, we’ll see.”
Even though Maria has countless career opportunities ahead of her, I think she still nurtures immense love for tennis and wants to make sure that she doesn’t give up without being 100% sure that all her resources have dried up. Her outstanding competitive spirit can never go away, in my opinion, but her body will have to allow her to endure the wear and tear of professional sport. Whether that will happen, time will tell.
I notice a lot of people are commenting “Just retire” whenever Sharapova loses a match, especially those that consider her a cheater because of the Meldonium doping case, but I’m not in that category. What do you think? Is this the end of Maria Sharapova or will we see her at the top again? Would it be a shame for her career to just fade away, should she have left at her prime? Tell me in the comments below!
To me the whole doping suspension was pretty unfair. OK she was slack about the change to the requirements, but I think an eighteen month suspension for that was really over the top, when it was only a few weeks after the drug was made illegal. Three months maybe fair enough or something like that. So I think that must have demoralised her, and since then she has had a lot of injuries. It’s up to her whether she want to keep on trying to compete – lots of players do this when they are past their prime – Sara Errani, Sam Stosur, Francesca Schiavone – before eventually retiring. Lots of professional players never get beyond the level Sharapova is at now and we don’t say there is something wrong with them. But hte one thing I don’t doubt is that she will have a successful life and career after she stops playing. Brand Sharapova might take a hit, but then it already has. I’m sure she will find a new enterprise that will engage her,
CLT, you’re right about mentioning that a lot of players still play even though they are past their prime and nobody’s making a big deal out of it. As I discussed with readers on Facebook, Maria may be continuing to play because her endorsement deals are more profitable if she stays active, or else she may be trying to prove that Meldonium wasn’t necessary for her success.
Sharapova will never be finished until she really thinks so.Although her performance suggests otherwise but still if she has inner self belief and a positive mindset then she can return even from this point.She can still prove that meldonium was not necessary for her to be a superstar.
She might not be playing well today, She might not tomorrow but if she can somehow manage her shoulder she can be back winning matches in no time. Remember 2017 after she came back from suspension it took her no time to win matches and then she got injured before wimbeldon only to come back at us open knocking halep in first round.
She might not be best shot maker, not the best mover but she has got the will to win matches, a trait that not many players in WTA has got. There are number of players out there best shot makers, best movers, best all around game but they all simple crumble under pressure(Azarenka, Halep, Muguruza, Kvitova, Osaka, Ivanovic)
She showed the world good attitude and hard work will bring you to success no matter what the body goes through. Just a samurai warrior mentality and toughness the world has never seen before.
Many of you might write her off today but there is always another tomorrow and she will make sure you wrong.
“There are a lot people who are more talented out there but if you work hard you will beat them in long run”, She inspired me so much that I can’t imagine WTA tour without her.