Maria Sharapova now spends part of her WTA retirement selling sweets and chocolate through her Sugarpova brand. She's a tennis player turned candy saleswoman and chocolatier. But what interesting paths have other players followed in retirement?
Kimiko Date's "love for bread" started when she was touring Europe in her late teens. "Up until then I was only into Japanese food, but as I discovered these amazing bakeries and cafés, my tastes changed. Each time I went to a new city, I’d try to find new places," she has said. She now owns a bakery in Tokyo called Frau Krumm (she was previously married to a German racing car driver, Michael Krumm, and wanted the name to reflect the shop's focus on German baked goods).
Martina Navratilova was once a novelist. In the mid-1990s, after retiring from singles, she wrote three books of a murder mystery series - The Total Zone, Killing Instinct and Breaking Point - all of which had as their protagonist Jordan Myles, a former tennis player turned therapist. Navratilova collaborated on the novels with author Liz Nickles, giving readers a new insight into tennis (as well as a new insight into the tennis player's mind).
Helen Wills Moody won 19 Grand Slam singles titles, but her creativity wasn't confined to the tennis court. In her retirement, she was busy in her studio, creating paintings and etchings that she exhibited at galleries in New York City.
What could possibly give you more of an adrenaline rush than winning four US Open titles and one Wimbledon dish? Try being a wartime spy and being shot in the back by a double agent. That was how 1930s champion Alice Marble spent some of her retirement, after accepting a request from American intelligence to spy on a former boyfriend, a Swiss banker, who was suspected of helping Nazi Germany to hide the gold, art and other materials that had been looted from across occupied Europe. After arranging a 'chance' encounter, Marble and 'Hans' resumed their romance, and she gathered the materials that her spymasters had requested. Marble's operation had been infiltrated, and she was shot and left for dead - but she survived and some of the material she found was used at the Nuremberg trials.
Just like Sharapova, Gabriela Sabatini started her business while still playing, but then had more time to dedicate to it after retirement. More than 30 years after it was launched, her eponymous line of perfumes is still very successful. Some consumers aren't even aware that Sabatini - a former US Open champion - was once a tennis player.
Carrie Cunningham, now Dr. Carrie C. Lubitz, has gone from being a force on the tennis court to an authority on thyroid cancer care. In 2014, her friend Rennae Stubbs posted this on Instagram: “Catching up with my old buddy Carrie Cunningham now Dr. Lubitz in Boston! Once #32 in the world in singles now world class surgeon!”
Dr. Lubitz earned a medical degree from the University of Michigan and is a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. She’s also a member of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Endocrine Surgery Unit.
The police lieutenant
After a 22-year professional tennis career, Tamarine Tanasugarn transitioned from breaking serves to catching lawbreakers. Tanasugarn earned a law degree from Bangkok University and became a lieutenant in the Royal Thai Police Force.
"I did it for my parents. They would be happy now that I have good and secure employment," Tanasugarn told the Bangkok Post in 2016.
Even after retiring from tennis, Helena Sukova is still getting into the heads of athletes. Sukova earned her doctorate in psychology from Palacký University in the Czech Republic. A psychologist, she has been vice president of the Association of Sports Psychologists for more than a decade. Her tennis background comes in handy in that field, especially with clients who are athletes.
"It helps you in that you know how the athletes are feeling at a certain stage, so you know what to look for," she said in a 2018 interview with WTA Insider.
Magdalena Maleeva once joined forces with the Backstreet Boys to fight climate change, and the three-time Olympian is still spending much of her time helping with environmental conservation efforts. She has opened organic food stores and co-founded Harmonica, a line of organic foods ranging from wild porcini mushrooms to rosehip marmalade.
The real-estate developer
Agnieszka Radwanska has put a new spin on apartment rentals. The former tennis champion formed a partnership with Profbud, a real-estate developer in Poland. This resulted in luxury apartments in Kraków, where the tennis-themed rooms are decorated with memorabilia and souvenirs from WTA tournaments. The company’s website states these apartments combine “the atmosphere of world-class sports tournaments with luxurious recreation in the heart of Kraków!”
The nightclub owner
Dominika Cibulkova once entertained fans with her tennis but now offers a different type of entertainment though a nightclub called The Velvet. Cibulkova is an investor in the restaurant and bar, located in the city center of Bratislava, Slovakia. According to the Welcome to Bratislava website, the venue was inspired by bars in New York and London. It is divided into several areas (lounges). There is a special “Ladies Lounge,” which is a small VIP lounge that can be separated with velvet curtains.
Former World No.19 Yayuk Basuki is in the House. The 1997 Wimbledon singles quarterfinalist has served in the Indonesian House of Representatives since 2014. Basuki, a member of the National Mandate Party, has fought for pension benefits for athletes.
Barbara Jordan, a three-time All-American athlete and economics major at Stanford University, won the Australian Open singles title in 1979. After retiring from tennis, Jordan earned her law degree from UCLA in 1987. She practised business law for more than 30 years.
Valerie Ziegenfuss, one of the Original Nine, has been a real estate agent in San Diego for more than 15 years. She received San Diego Magazine’s 5-Star Realtor designation for eight consecutive years. Ziegenfuss compares her work as a realtor to that of a tennis professional.
"There are no shortcuts for rising to the top in any field," she said.