Coach Michael Joyce: Shoulder injury prevented Sharapova from winning at least 10 Grand Slams

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Maria Sharapova‘s former coach, Michael Joyce, stated in a recent interview that people don’t realize how big of an achievement it was for the recently-retired WTA star to even get back to tennis after her serious shoulder injury that destroyed one of her biggest weapons, her serve, and that had she not had that severe health issue she would’ve won more than ten Grand Slam titles.

Maria Sharapova during her last career match, against Donna Vekic in the first round of the 2019 US Open

Sharapova didn’t compete for nine months following a first shoulder surgery in 2008 and she had to completely change her service motion, trying different things, to minimize the wear and tear on her vulnerable body part. Joyce, who coached Masha between 2004-2011, praised her determination and resilience:

What a lot of people don’t realize is her coming back from that shoulder surgery was a win itself. She had a great serve, but at the time her shoulder wasn’t strong enough to do her normal long motion. She got back to the Top 10 basically without one of her biggest weapons.

After having to transform her game because of the tear in her rotator cuff, Sharapova still managed to add two more major titles to her trophy cabinet, and to make the story even more incredible, those two titles came on the clay of Roland Garros, her least favorite surface, where she used to feel like “a cow on ice”. Joyce commented on Sharapova completing a Career Slam in Paris:

For her to come back and win the French Open a couple of times, because clay was her worst surface when she was younger, was because the serve is not as important on clay.

The famous tennis coach, who led Sharapova to the No.1 ranking and three of her five major titles, then explained just how much the persistent shoulder troubles negatively affected the Russian’s career:

The rest of her career I think she managed it, she could still serve big but I don’t personally think it was anything like before she had the injury. I think if she hadn’t hurt her shoulder she could probably have won double-digit Grand Slams.

The 32-year-old Sharapova retired last month, revealing her body had become a “distraction” after her long struggles with shoulder injuries. What made things worse was her inability to get back to old form after the 15-month Meldonium doping ban in 2016.

Don’t think that Masha is leading a peaceful life off the courts now that she’s retired, she continues to be a busy bee with all her entrepreneurial projects, plus, she’s finally indulging guilt-free in all the food and drinks that she likes.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with what Michael said about her losing serve.
    But I have to say there are 2 types of tennis players talented/natural athlete & hardworker athlete..
    I dont feel like Maria is a natural athlete, she is not the best mover on court, but she is extremely hardworker. And a lot of hardworks always pays off (hence her 5 slams)..
    But since I feel like she is not a natural athlete,her body got injured alot as she ages, n she is having a hard time recovered n compete against young talented players..
    We all gonna miss her..

  2. Ian, I believe that talent is necessary to reach the level Maria reached in her career, but in all cases, talent accounts for just a small percentage, let’s say 5%, of somebody’s achievements. Hard work is everything. Also, you said “as she ages”, well, her first shoulder injury happened 13 years ago, when she was still not even 20 years old, if I am calculating right.

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