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I Choose to Retire – Maria Sharapova: Why I haven’t responded to onslaught of insults

If only Maria Sharapaova was this wise before she took banned substances.

Following rounds of criticism before and after the Russian star returned to court in May after she served a 15-month drug abuse suspension, the five-time Grand Slam winner revealed that she decided to take the “high road” when it came to dealing with criticism other players and not “trashing them back.”

“I’m aware of what many of my peers have said about me, and how critical of me some of them have been in the press,” Sharapova penned in an essay for The Players’ Tribune. “If you’re a human being with a normal, beating heart, you know… I don’t think that sort of thing will ever fully be possible to ignore. And I don’t think it will ever not be weird or hurtful to go through.

“But at the same time … I’ve always tried to keep a generous attitude toward critics in general — whoever they are, and whenever they’ve been there. I’ve never wanted to respond to the people trashing me by trashing them back; that’s always been important to me. I’ve always wanted to respond by showing grace — something I learned from my mom, one of the most graceful and elegant people I know. I’ve always wanted to face my critics by simply taking the high road. And by showing them, by showing everyone, that taking the high road is a choice.

Maria Sharapova’s rivals annoyed by her return
Sharapova has received criticism from all corners of the sport, none more damning than that from Eugenie Bouchard, who flat out called Sharapova a “cheater” and suggested the former world No. 1 be kicked out of tennis.

“I don’t think that’s right. She’s a cheater,” Bouchard told Turkey’s TRT World in April. “I don’t think a cheater at any sport should be allowed to play that sport again. It’s so unfair to all the other players who do it the right way and are true. I think from the WTA it sends the wrong message to young kids: ‘Cheat and we’ll welcome you back with open arms.’”

Sharapova, ranked No. 173, played three events after serving her suspension before she suffered a thigh injury which caused her to miss the entire grass season, including Wimbledon. She is playing in the World Team Tennis this week before she makes her next WTA event at Stanford later this month.

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