Maria Sharapova is retiring from professional tennis at age 32 as she can no longer endure the pain.
“I look at photos of myself and the motion where I’m just about to hit the ball, and I’m in the air or just as I’m making contact,” she said on Tuesday, “and I can’t even look at it because it makes me cringe. I have so much pain.”
Sharapova is one of the richest and most globally recognisable star athletes of the 21st century. She has found herself unable to return to her top form after a suspension for using a banned substance in 2016.
The pain has been a near-constant companion over the last two years. She has dealt with recurring tendon damage in her right shoulder and inflammation in her forearms. This has made it excruciatingly difficult for her to even grip a racket, much less rip a forehand.
After the news of Kobe’s death expressed her disbelief over the news. She and Kobe got to know each other while they were both endorsing Nike brand. Sharapova mentions that she would never forget Kobe’s generosity. He was always there for her in her most difficult moments.
“We were supposed to see each other like three days after the crash,” said Sharapova. Sharapova also explained that Bryant had been an “incredible sounding board” throughout her career.
She had reached out to Kobe to ask for his help in terms of how to cope with her constant pain. She knew it was time for her to retire and Kobe’s death made it even clearer for her.
“I think we all seem at times in our journey like larger than life because of what we do. Everyone at the core is incredibly fragile,” she said of Bryant. “And if anything it just opens up your eyes to what matters in life, so that was a moment where I had a really good think about my future as well.”