Anyone who is a fan of Tennis will be well aware that there will never again be someone like Maria Sharapova. She always swayed the Tennis odds, and presented herself as an astounding woman, capable of many things.
She was one of the few women who was able to win all four majors at least one time in the Open.
Her retirement happened due to injuries, and it robbed the world of one of the fiercest competitors to step out onto the court. However, it also took away one of the world’s most well recognized female athletes, one of whom transcended her sport and brought tennis into a new light.
She had a game build by aggressive ground strokes and hardcore mental strength.
She won a brilliant 36 career titles, including an Olympic silver medal, and five majors! She also held the #1 ranking for a whole 21 weeks, amassing $38 million prize money!
She played for 28 years, however, her body cannot take it anymore, certainly not at the level which she played at. Every athlete has their limits and must leave the game eventually, it’s just a fact of life.
She had laser-like focus and a never-say-die type attitude, her work ethic was hardcore on the court and off it, and in spite of any and all issues around her career, this inspired future generations of tennis players.
Her dedication to the sport gave her much recognition and even Novak Djokovic saw her as one of the most dedicated athletes in the sport.
Maria Sharapova has always been hyper-aggressive in her game. No one can forget the sound she would emit as she struck the ball, reminiscent of the battle cry of a Valkyrie. She earned her career grand slam with that war cry!
However, her legacy does have its taints. She earned her career grand slam, and was well known for her skills on and off the tennis court. But, we cannot forget her later-career suspension as a result of doping.
In spite of this we have to admit she is a tough and savvy woman, granted the ability to parlay her on court successes into hard cash.
She alienated many people in her career, almost as many as she loved. She had a small circle in the WTA, for the most part they were just rivals who she needed to beat. Thus, when she retired many were simply indifferent.
Sure her skills on the court were astounding, and she presented an epic image, but she made few contacts, and her later career discrepancies left her whole retirement a bit bland.
Some of her peers reported very counter-excitement statements when she returned to the field in 2017 after her 15-month suspension for doping. They criticized the rush by directors, even Grand Slam officials.
They had awarded the previously unranked Sharapova a wild-card entry, which did not go down so well with other players. Wozniacki herself stated that ‘I feel like when a player is banned for drugs, I think that someone should start from the bottom and fight their way back.’
It’s hard to argue with Wozniacki here, she does make a good point.
A Mixed Mood
While the mood of her competitors might seem a bit harsh, it is justified. She had been using meldonium, which is a performance enhancing drug that increases stamina and alertness.
However, in spite of this, she did return and go 44-26 in singles with only one title. She went 5-8 against the top-10 and made it into the quarterfinals in a single season.
Her efforts were also slowed by a shoulder injury, although it was there even at her peak. It is rather hard not to see the dramatic downfall in her abilities over the years with this. However, age is a cruel mistress.
When she was at her best, her presence alone would startle and concern her opponents. Although she would struggle with her serve, she powered through and took advantage of any situation she could.
One of her tactics would be to stare across the net, for long enough for the crowd to settle and her opponent to notice. She would discombobulate them this way, and set about her work.
Her play was something to be admired, and her skills and techniques certainly a wonder to behold, however, many in sport will always frown upon the use of drugs, and this really did shake her image.
She already lacked many friends inside tennis, and with this she damaged part of her legacy too. That is not to say that she won’t still long be revered for her epic skills though.
A Player To Be Remembered
A big part of Sharapova’s legacy is her aggression in game, her ferocity that really makes her something to behold. She always made up for the skills she didn’t have in sheer aggression. This is where her record against the equally epic Serena Williams is important.
Williams had a solid 20-2 against Sharapova. One of the losses was a 2018 French Open walkover, however the other is more glamorous, a rivalry that seemed to be fated.
When Sharpova lost to Williams she won her 2004 clash in Wimbledon, however, this was a sore blow for Williams, which she never quite forgot.
Williams is equal if not even more revered than Sharapova, simply in terms of combativeness and sheer guts.
However, one thing Serena Williams had that Sharapova doesn’t is the love from fans and peers alike. She gained friendships and became a role model, which is something Sharapova never did.
While this does not seem like a massive thing, it does have importance. The lack of a supportive community and friendships is like a big hole in Sharapova’s resume, and is part of what seemingly raised Williams above her.
Whatever the case, Sharapova will always be a legend in tennis, and someone who inspires the younger generation of tennis players to pick up their rackets and take to the courts.