Today, February 26, 2020, 5-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova declared her retirement from tennis.
So, in honor of her career and 5 Grand Slams, here are 5 reasons Maria Sharapova deserves to be considered an all-time great.
Reason #1 – Perseverance
In a time when tennis was dominated by Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova made room for herself at the top of the sport. And, despite posting an agonizing 3-20 record against Williams, Sharapova continued to push past defeat and shoulder injuries to make it to the top.
Starting all the way in 2007, Sharapova had to miss the entire clay-court season for a shoulder injury. Then in 2008, she had to end her season in August to have surgery for a rotator cuff tear. In 2013, Sharapova had to end her season before the US Open with another shoulder injury. Finally, Sharapova missed most of the 2019 season with more shoulder injuries that eventually resulted in minor surgery.
On top of all of these shoulder injuries, and many other injuries, Maria Sharapova managed to claim 5 Grand Slam championships, 36 career titles, an Olympic silver medal, and a nice stay at the #1 spot in the rankings. Not to mention doing this all in the era of Serena Williams. If that is perseverance, I don’t know what is.
Reason #2 – Wimbledon 2004
Has anybody forgotten about when 17-year-old Maria Sharapova beat Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2004? Well, if you have here’s a reminder that she beat the legend herself that year in the championship 6-1, 6-4.
Sharapova was also a five-time semifinalist at Wimbledon. Many believe that had Sharapova never went through so many shoulder injuries that she would have won Wimbledon several times. This is quite likely true considering her naturally aggressive play style that suits the grass courts well.
Reason #3 – 2006
Many years, we never got to see a full-season of Maria Sharapova playing without injury. And, although she may have been struggling with minor injuries, 2006 was one season we got to see Sharapova at her full potential.
In 2006 She:
- Won 59/68 matches (87%)
- Went to 7 finals out of the 15 tournaments she played
- Won 5 titles, including the US Open
- Ended the year ranked #2
I know that’s a small sample size, but those season numbers put her in a very elite group of players.
Reason #4 – Top 10 Wins
There really isn’t much to say about this one other than Maria Sharapova had 98 career wins against top 10 ranked opponents.
Here are a few of her records against great players:
- 2-0 against Karolina Pliskova
- 8-1 against Jelena Jankovic
- 5-1 against Lindsay Davenport
- 7-2 against Simona Halep
- 3-1 against Garbine Muguruza
- 10-4 against Ana Ivanovic
- 2-1 against Martina Hingis
- 7-4 against Caroline Wozniacki
- 5-3 against Venus Williams
Oh yeah, and 27 of those 98 wins against top 10 players came at a Grand Slam.
Reason #5 – 19 Match Win Streak
Starting at the US Open in 2006, Maria Sharapova didn’t lose a match until losing to Justine Henin in the semifinals of the WTA Tour Championships.
This 19 match win streak 3 titles, one of which was the US Open, and wins over players to the likes of the number 1 ranked Amelie Mauresmo, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, and several other top opponents.
During this stretch, Sharapova only dropped 2 sets, one to the #1 ranked player and another in the championship of the Zurich Open.
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