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Maria Sharapova retires from tennis

Maria Sharapova serves at the Arthur Ashe Kids' Day tennis festival at USTA National Tennis Center Grounds in Queens, N.Y., on August 23, 2003. Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova announced her retirement from tennis Wednesday after a nearly three-decade run in the sport.

Sharapova made the announcement in an essay for Vanity Fair and Vogue. The five-time Grand Slam champion was ranked No. 373 in the world after losing in the first round of the 2020 Australian Open.

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"I'm new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis -- I'm saying goodbye," Sharapova wrote.

Sharapova, 32, started playing tennis at 4. She made her professional debut in 2001 at age 14.

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She was the No. 1 ranked women's player in 2005. The Russian tennis star was the highest-paid female athlete in the world for more than a decade. Sharapova posted a 645-171 singles record during her decorated tennis tenure.

She won more than $38 million in prize money and 36 singles titles. She was also suspended for 15 months in 2016 by the International Tennis Federation for testing positive for the banned substance meldonium, before a series of injuries sent her tumbling down the WTA rankings.

"In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life," Sharapova wrote. "I'll miss it everyday. I'll miss the training and my daily routine: Waking up at dawn, lacing my left shoe before my right, and closing the court's gate before I hit my first ball of the day.

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"I'll miss my team, my coaches. I'll miss the moments sitting with my father on the practice court bench. The handshakes -- win or lose -- and the athletes, whether they knew it or not, who pushed me to be my best."

Sharapova cited her numerous injuries and shoulder injuries in her retirement essay. She plans to spend more time with her family, relax, travel and work out on her own time.

"Looking back now, I realize that tennis has been my mountain," Sharapova wrote. "My path has been filled with valleys and detours, but the views from its peak were incredible. After 28 years and five Grand Slam titles, though, I'm ready to scale another mountain -- to compete on a different type of terrain."

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