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Maria Sharapova: The Good And The Bad
- Takudzwa Alufeyo
Maria Sharapova: The Good And The Bad



On February 26, Maria Sharapova, one of the greatest female tennis players of all time waved goodbye to the tennis family. Maria came from playing tennis at a local park in Russia at the age of 4 to winning the biggest of tournaments on the women’s tennis circuit.

Sharapova turned professional in 2001 on her fourteenth birthday, which was just a stepping stone of what was ahead. At the age of 17, the Russian won her first grand slam title at the 2004 Wimbledon Championships, defeating then world number 1 and defending champion, Serena Williams. In 2005, she became the first Russian woman to be ranked first in the world at just the age of 18.
 
Throughout her career, Maria has been world number 1 on five separate occasions, spending at least 21 weeks on the top of the rankings. She has also won 36 titles on the circuit, five of which grand slam singles titles. The former world number 1 is also just the 10th woman to complete a career grand, winning each of the 4 at least once, with two of them coming at Roland Garros.

However, throughout her tennis career, she was plagued by several shoulder, thigh and arm injuries, which caused problems for the athlete as she had to undergo multiple surgeries on crucial moments of her tennis career.

Despite a decorated tennis career, she has also featured in the modelling industry, the most notable features being on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and Cole Haan, which is a huge model house. She has also been a brand ambassador for Nike, Prince, Head and Porsche over the course of her career.
 
She has also featured on Forbes list of most paid athletes for more than a decade. Maria has been a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations since 2007, although they suspended her duties in 2016 due to her meldonium controversy in 2016. However, she got reinstated in April 2017 when her suspension from the Women’s Tennis Association was over.

In 2016, Maria announced that she had tested positive for a banned substance, meldonium at the Australian Open. She was taking the substance as per the doctor’s prescription but she was banned for 2 years from playing professional tennis.  which was reduced to  15 months. This resulted in the loss of several endorsement deals, goodwill assignments with Head being the only brand that stuck with her throughout the suspension.

She returned to professional tennis in April 2017 and made a return to the top 25 in 2018. However due to arm,thigh and shoulder injuries, she ended the 2019 season ranked 131. It seems she could not recover and find her best form in 2020, which led to her ultimate retirement at the age of 32. She will be remembered as one of the greatest female athletes in the world of sport.
 

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