Year 2004. Venue Centre court, Wimbledon.Ladies singles championship, where legendary Serena Williams, known for her supremacy with game play and power was facing a 17 years old Russian girl named
Serena, arguably the best of all times was clear favorite. Odds completely stacked against Sharapova .First grand-slam final. Wimbledon Crowd. Tender age and opponent is strong and determined, the best server, SERENA. Anybody would have crumble on such an immense pressure.
Match started. Shots played, ball rallied and after an hour or more, scoreboard read
M.Sharapova def. Serena Williams 6-1 6-4. ( Disastrous day for bookies 😀 )
A star was born. Tennis has got what it was missing since retirement of Steffi Graf.
An exceptionally beautiful girl with golden hair , playing wonderful tennis. A perfect combo to promote brands, promote game.
There started a fairy tale, some claimed that it is just a lucky win, but Maria continued to rise, won year ending championship and also #1 rank.
Sharapova was not just a player, she was a phenomena. Everybody knew that her game is not exceptional. Talent-wise I would certainly place likes of Justine Henin or Martina Hingis above Maria.
But 35 singles titles, 5 Grandslams, Career Slam, Olympic Silver medal, Federation Cup Winner.. Maria Sharapova certainly has an illustrious career.
Maria Sharapova was not just yet another star player.
She electrified women’s tennis circuit, which was getting kinda ‘boring’ with complete dominance of Williams sisters.
Her rivalry with Serena Williams has always been a hot selling story. Although, it couldn’t be called rivalry in traditional way, as Serena has won every single game against Maria in last 12 years, it has given all sports magazines and news papers and websites a proper dramatic ground where highest endorsing beautiful woman athlete Maria locks horns with strong and super athlete Serena. Off court differences between them has also spiced up this rivalry.
But now.. Now it all is seemingly coming to an abrupt end.
In March 2016, Maria took press conference to confess that she has failed doping test at Australian Open 2016.
‘Meldonium’, a drug banned from 1 Jan 2016 by ITF, was part of Maria’s diabetes medicine which she has been taking since 2006.
There shouldn’t be any doubt about passion and integrity of Maria and tennis fans know that she would have been last person to consume banned drugs intentionally.
Missed emails have cost Maria Sharapova and they have cost her dearly.
2 years ban announced on Maria would see her not playing professional tennis at any level, at least not before January 2018.
She would be 31 by then. An age of retirement in women’s circuit at least.
It looks like a golden and shining career of Maria has come to an end.
I have always been Maria’s big Fan. ( Oh yes! I have a notebook full of her photos from newspaper !!! ) Not only because of her beautiful look, but also because I believe she is the strongest player in Women’s circuit mentally. Who can forget her consecutive 4 matches decisive set victories to win French Open in 2014 ?
AT ANY COST !!
There is no doubt that drug consumption by Maria is unintentional. She has shown her character by publicly admitting about her failed drug test by herself. However, rules are rules and they must be same for everyone. No matter even if you are the highest paid women athlete of all times.
I would call this all incident tragic and unfortunate. Maria will have to pay for her ignorance, which has put her rest of the career on the line.
Tomorrow, at dawn on the court of Wimbledon, silence of fans will be even louder as everyone is gonna miss her typical ‘Sharapova grunts‘ after every shot and don’t know if we can ever see the same Maria once again after two years if she decides to come back.
Well, every princess gets a fairy tale ending to her story… Let’s just hope Maria too will.