Tennis star Maria Sharapova announced her retirement from the sport on Wednesday, writing a heartfelt essay for Vogue and Vanity Fair.
“How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known?” the essay begins. “How do you walk away from the court 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.”
Sharapova, 32, captured the first of her five Grand Slam titles when she was just 17-years-old at the 2004 Wimbledon Championships. She would go on to win the US Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008, and the French Open in 2012 and 2014.
The Russian would reach the top of the world rankings in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2012, but in 2016, received a two-year suspension by the ITF for testing positive for meldonium, a banned substance. The suspension was reduced to 15 months after the Court of Arbitration for Sport concluded there was “no significant fault” by her.
But Sharapova walks away from the game as one if its all-time greats, and is ready to begin the next stage of her life.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”