Maria Sharapova "leaves a lot of unanswered questions behind" according to tennis professional

Thursday, February 27th, 2020 3:01pm

By Josh O'Brien @JoshJohnOBrien1

Grand Slam Doubles Star Anna Smith thinks Maria Sharapova's career is one that has to be looked back on as "two separate legacies".

Maria Sharapova has called time on her illustrious career on the court after 19 years as a professional. Regularly heralded as one of the greatest female tennis players to grace the game, her time in the spotlight has not been without controversy. 

The Russian's honours list makes for extensive reading; having won Wimbledon at the age of 17 (the third youngest female to ever win the tournament), Sharapova went on to become part of a select group of players who won every single grand slam. 

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The face of Russian sport, Maria Sharapova also secured a silver medal at The London 2012 Olympic Games. Her trademark two-handed backhand shot proving too difficult for most opponents to handle, Sharapova held the number 1 ranking five times over the course of nearly two decades. 

She first earned the title of number 1 in 2005 aged just 18, making her the first Russian female tennis player to hold top spot. 

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However, a doping sandal tarnished the perception of one of women's tennis biggest stars. In 2016, a failed drugs test at The Australian Open in which the Russian tested positive for meldonium changed the landscape of her career forever. As a result, in June of that year she was suspended from all competitive action by the International Tennis Federation. 

Speaking to Love Sport Breakfast, Doubles star and former Wimbledon competitor Anna Smith spoke on how Sharapova's career will obviously be blighted by the 2016 scandal, but ultimately her talent should see her take her place at the table of tennis greats.

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"I kind of think you almost have to look at it as two separate legacies, one before the the drugs incident and the one after. I think we all have to remember that she is one of the few players who has actually won every single grand slam on on different surfaces and there's about seven players in the history of the game to have done that. 

"So you kind of have to remember that what she done in the game was incredible but then obviously the legacy has been slightly tainted since the drugs ban. So yeah, I think if you want to look tennis wise, you just have to look what she did before and what an incredible competitor that she was."

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Smith revealed that she believes the cloud of the doping ban will loom large over Sharapova's career long after she retires. 

"I think the hard part obviously, there's so much grey area as to whether it was used for medical purposes or if it was performance enhancing. Obviously we saw that after she came back from the ban that she wasn't the same player but she did have a lot of injuries after so I think she leaves a lot of unanswered questions behind."

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