Towering loss - GulfToday

Towering loss


Maria Sharapova

At 6-foot-2, Maria Sharapova stood tall both on and off the court for over two decades, before the 2016 Australian Open drug test proved career-damaging for the Russian (“Story of a superstar: Stuff of Hollywood, a testament to power of one individual”, Feb.26, Gulf Today).

The poster girl of tennis recently announced her retirement, which is rather unexpected in today’s tennis where the retirement age keeps rising. Look no further than the Williams or Fedex Express

While the doping scandal may have robbed her of a longer tennis career no one will be able to steal from her the credit she deserves for battling through the ranks with splendid ease, since her stunning victory over Serena Williams at the 2004 Wimbledon, aged only 17.

She rallied hard at packed stadiums. Her towering serves, booming groundstrokes coupled with a mental fortitude of a champion, Sharapova was a force to reckon with. Five Grand Slam titles, a stint at No. 1, Olympic medals and over $40 million in prize money, she has no doubt accomplished a lot, at 32, when she announced her goodbye to the sport.

For 11 years before her doping ban, Sharapova was the highest-paid female athlete in the world, according to Forbes. Reports indicate that the agile Russian had once signed a contract extension with Nike worth a reported $70 million and Forbes calculated in 2016 that she had made more than $300 million over her career from playing and endorsements.

Her off-court success apart, Sharapova continued to be a fan favourite so much so that she was granted wild cards after her return from the ban, because of the sway she held over tennis fans. Sharapova was synonymous with packed attendance. Everyone loved her despite everything.

But at the end of the day, its tennis. And the game is above the fans. She faced four straight losses in Majors after her return from the long 15-month suspension and her ranking dropped to outside of the top 350.

“I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis - I’m saying goodbye,” she said in her retirement announcement. It’s new, also for her ardent fan, me included. Tennis will miss her magic.

Ralph R
By email

Related articles