Maria Sharapova has revealed that she had considered retirement following the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio – but now she intends to continue and add to her total of five Grand Slam titles.
In an interview with Hamptons, she said that her 6-3, 7-6 defeat to Serena Williams in the 2015 Australian Open made her think about hanging up her racquet for good.
“I’d been playing professionally since I was very young, and there were certainly moments in life where you want to feel like a normal person,” she said. “You want to be there for your friends and for your family, when they need you and not just when you can. Going into another press conference after a loss, and everything that you built on the court, in 15 minutes getting punished for losing a match… it makes you think.
“And in that period of my career, retirement was very much [on my mind]. I have so many other passions in my life as well, and although tennis has [been] the core of my life in the past 30 years, as a woman, there’s so much to look forward to. I was 28; at that stage, I never really thought that I’d play past Rio [the 2016 Summer Olympics].”
Sharapova, 30, returned to the sport in April following a 15-month suspension for a violation of anti-doping rules – and says that she is now set on returning to the top of the game – partly to repay her team for their support.
“It’s funny, what I play for is so different now than what I played for when I was younger,” she said.
“When you’re away from something for a long time, you realize what you really miss and why. There are so many things in tennis that I don’t really get in other parts in my life: I play for the competition; I play for the victories that I can earn with my team, who also help me be the player that I am, who work with me on a daily basis.”
The 2006 US Open champion has been awarded a wildcard into the main draw at Flushing Meadows; the tournament begins on August 28.