Maria Sharapova has called a press conference scheduled for Monday night in which she will make a “major announcement” according to her management, fuelling speculation that she could be about to retire from professional tennis due to the string of injuries she has suffered in recent years.
Sharapova has struggled throughout 2016 with an injury to her left forearm which hampered her campaign at the Australian Open in January, where she made a quarter-final exit at the hands of Serena Williams.
Sharapova has not competed since then, and was forced to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California later this month having not recovered.
It’s believed that the 28-year-old could announce her retirement from the sport when she speaks at 8pm GMT Monday after a number of injuries have prevented her from playing regularly for several years, and she has only played in three events in the last eight months.
Sharapova has also developed a flourishing business model off the court, but while the press conference could yet prove to be her latest business venture, they are rarely billed as “major announcements” by her own team.
Speaking earlier this week, Sharapova said of her withdrawal from Indian Wells: “I am extremely disappointed that I am unable to compete in this year’s BNP Paribas Open.
“I have been focused on healing my left forearm injury and tried to get my body to be 100% ready to play this event, as it is one of my favourite events on the WTA and so close to my home in LA.”
However, the Russian did not hint at any sudden decision to end her career prematurely, and should she make such an announcement on Monday, the news would come as a huge shock to the sport.
Sharapova is one of the most recognisable names in women’s sport after she burst onto the scene by winning her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2004 at the age of just 17, becoming the third youngest Wimbledon winner after Lottie Dod and Martina Hingis.
High expectations immediately followed her teenage success, but she would have to wait two years before adding second Grand Slam success when she triumphed at the US Open in 2006, adding the Australian Open crown to her CV in 2008.
Sharapova was unable to win the French Open for quite some time though, but she completed the clean sweep when she was victorious at Roland Garros in 2012, and added a second French Open title in 2014 with a relentless march to the final which saw her beat Garbine Miguruza, Eugenie Bouachard and Simona Halep in succession.
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