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How the heartbreak of Kobe Bryant’s death led Maria Sharapova to retire

Maria Sharapova explained to The New York Times why she decided to call her career quits

Maria Sharapova explained to the New York Times why she decided to call her career quits In this photo, she serves to Jarmila Groth during the first round of the U.S. Open Tuesday.
Maria Sharapova serves to Jarmila Groth during the first round of the U.S. Open.
Associated Press

Maria Sharapova recently told The New York Times that the heartbreak over Kobe Bryant’s tragic death back in January helped her make peace with her decision to retire.

What’s going on?

  • Sharapova said she was supposed to meet with Kobe Bryant three days after the helicopter crash, which took the lives of Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and seven others.
  • Sharapova said the tragedy helped her come to terms with retirement.
  • She said: “I think we all seem at times in our journey like larger than life because of what we do, but everyone at the core is incredibly fragile. And if anything it just opens up your eyes to what really matters in life. So that was a moment where I had a really good think about my future as well.”
  • “As I think you’ve seen throughout my career, my perseverance has been my greatest tool, my greatest strength. But I’ve started feeling like it was becoming a weakness, because the stubbornness that was keeping me going was keeping me going for wrong reasons. Would I have loved to have a sixth, a seventh, an eighth Grand Slam trophy? That number sounds better, but I could have had zero when I started, and I got myself to a pretty incredible place.”

More reasons to retire

  • Sharapova wrote an essay for Vanity Fair about her retirement, too, saying she had to wait until she knew retirement was worth it.
  • She wrote: “Throughout my career, ‘Is it worth it?’ was never even a question — in the end, it always was. My mental fortitude has always been my strongest weapon. Even if my opponent was physically stronger, more confident — even just plain better — I could, and did, persevere.”