Eighteen months after the former world number one Maria Sharapova was barred from the tennis court due to a doping ban, she returned to her earlier life as a champion player, and the Wimbledon title could have brought her one step closer to the dream of regaining the title. It’s been fifteen years since she shot to global fame when she captured the Wimbledon title, but an emotional Sharapova quit the tournament in pain on Tuesday due to an injured forearm. This sudden move raises more questions than it answers about her future in the sport.

Image Credit: Firstpost

The 2004 champion retired with a left arm injury. She was facing off Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier who claimed a 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 5-0 win in the final set. Sharapova, now ranked at 80th in the world, served for the match in the second set but had to rush for treatment on her arm. She was unseeded for the first time since her debut in 2003.

“This is far from easy. I’ve never taken the easy route. I’ve always worked, committed, focused. Like I said, these moments are hard, but I love what I do. I still have a lot of passion for it”

The 32-year-old made a comeback at the tour in Mallorca last month after five months out to recover from right shoulder surgery in January. The five-time major winner and former world number one has nothing to show beyond the quarter-finals of a Slam since she returned from an 18-month drug ban in 2017.

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“I’m still proud that I’m here. This is not the easy way. I think the easy way would be just for me to maybe do other things,” said teary-eyed Sharapova after the match. “This is far from easy. I’ve never taken the easy route. I’ve always worked, committed, focused. Like I said, these moments are hard, but I love what I do. I still have a lot of passion for it,” she added.

“I’ve dreamed of having a family since I was very young because I’m very close to my parents,” she said. “I would love to have that connection in the future with hopefully my child. I don’t see myself having a child and then coming back. It’s never really been a vision that I’ve had for myself. Therefore, I think that’s still in the future for me,” she claimed.

The five-time Grand Slam champion, Sharapova’s career graph has been side-lined since February after undergoing a surgery on a long-standing shoulder injury which has troubled her since 2008.

“Female athletes are fighting for that equality, which is the right thing to do but is it right to still be doing it in 2019?”

“Female athletes are fighting for that equality, which is the right thing to do but is it right to still be doing it in 2019? No! It’s another thing we have to fight for, and we do because it’s part of our profession and part of our life. I want equality across the entire board and across all sports,” she told in an interview to Glamour Magazine.

Between 2004-2012, Sharapova played in seven WTA finals, winning Wimbledon in 2004 and two Birmingham crowns.

Her last on-court appearance was at the St Petersburg Open in her native Russia in January, eventually losing the French Open to Ashleigh Barty at round16 of the Australian Open earlier in the month.

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Feature Image Credit: The Indian Express

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