Premier Player of Tennis Sharapova Announces Retirement

One of the premier players in women’s tennis over the past couple of decades recently announced her retirement. News filtered through that Russian player Maria Sharapova is set to walk away from the game. The 32-year-old leaves the game with a career record of 645-171 after turning pro in 2001 at the tender age of just 14.

It is not a sport that you think of often in terms of attrition and burnout, but tennis is a craft that swallows up athletes at a young age and sees plenty of players – especially in the female game – retire from the sport while still in their twenties. To that extent, Sharapova beat the system of the game and this is especially true when you consider that despite some very significant injuries at the peak of her career, she was able to capture five Grand Slam titles.

Her lasting legacy in the sport will be those Grand Slam wins. She is one of just 10 women in the history of the game to win all four of the majors at least once, with the only repeated Grand Slam event win coming in the French Open. This is a little ironic as this premier player would often talk of how the clay courts of Roland Garros sought to expose here weaknesses, yet it was on the crushed rock that she was at her most successful.

Sharapova was at her best (weirdly) in even numbered years. The Grand Slam titles came in 2004 (Wimbledon), 2006 (US Open), 2008 (Australian Open,) and 2012/2014 (French Open). She also won an Olympic silver medal for Russia at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She reached another five Grand Slam finals that she failed to win, giving her a career record of 5-5 in such contests.

In a sport where the commercial deals have long gravitated towards the Williams sisters, Sharapova was – for a while – as big a star as there was in tennis – male or female. Her on-court career earnings have been dwarfed by here sponsorship opportunities, with the Russian perfectly summing up the ‘Strong is beautiful’ motto of the WTA. This premier player was one who quickly became known for her skill and her winning as opposed to her looks, with Sharapova being a feared and dominant competitor in every match she played when healthy.

Sharapova has the mindset of a premier player still wanting to compete, but the arduous and repetitive nature of practice and play has caused her body – in the shoulders and arms especially – to cause her to not play at the level she wishes. Retirement is a smart option at this point for her legacy, but the world of sport will be a little dimmer without Sharapova on the tennis scene.

Article by Premier Players

Coco Gauff Rises To A Premier Player of Tennis

Making your mark on the world stage as a premier player isn’t easy. Many competent athletes never find their name in lights and never rise to the center of attention in their sport. This is much more difficult in individual sports, where merely being a cog in a machine isn’t enough to get recognition. You have to do all the hard work to get there yourself.

Imagine, then, becoming a world-famous player in your sport before you have even celebrated your Sweet Sixteen birthday. Welcome to the life of Coco Gauff, the next American tennis phenom who sits with the world at her feet at the tender age of just 15-years-old.

Gauff is an example of the old adage that if you are good enough, you are old enough. She is also a reminder that becoming one of the premier players in your sport can happen at any age if the talent, the desire, and the surroundings are in place to nurture the athlete.

Cases like this are unusual because it is time after the breakout moment that will define Gauff’s career path. After she beat Venus Williams in the opening round of the women’s singles at Wimbledon this year, Gauff could easily have immediately failed under the increased pressure and scrutiny that comes with beating an American tennis icon. Instead, she took the victory in her stride beating Magdelena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog. She then lost to eventual winner Simona Halep in the fourth round of her breakthrough event.

Gauff has the mental strength, the physical strength, and the technique of a player many years her senior. All of these attributes, attributes that will make anyone one of the premier players of tennis, will have to be honed over the course of the coming years.

She is far from the first young tennis player to make an impact on the world stage. Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova were both starlets of the sport, and both are cautionary tales. For Gauff to become the player she can be, one that could be talked about with some of the greats of the game, her focus will need to stay on tennis and not have her head turned by the fame that is sure to come her way.

Athletes have different ways of reacting to such a sudden change in their standing. For some, the trappings of fame are very real. The classic example is the difference between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf; the quarterbacks selected No. 1 and No. 2 overall in the 1998 NFL Draft. Manning, a player so intently focused on the sport that he became a living meme before memes were even a thing, went on to become one of the greatest NFL players of all time. Leaf, a player who celebrated his drafting by partying in Las Vegas, is considered one of the most significant draft busts in history.

Gauff stands at a divergent point where she can become either Manning or Leaf. Reports of her looking to “buckle down” for future tournaments can only be seen as a good thing. Her desire to practice seen during Wimbledon week is also a promising sign. There is every reason to believe we will still be talking about Gauff as one of the premier players in tennis a decade from now if her post-Wimbledon routine is anything to go by.

Story by Steve Wright
Independent writer

Federer Wins On & Off The Court With His Passion To Help Others

Swiss tennis player Roger Federer recently won his 100th career title when he won the 2019 Dubai Open. Federer becomes just the second male player in the history of the sport to reach triple-digit title wins, joining Jimmy Connors who retired with 109 crowns to his name.

That Federer has been able to win so many titles in such a competitive sport speaks to his ability as one of the premier players at any sport in the world over the last two decades.

Federer is an interesting case study because of his dedication to his craft. Tennis is simply an exhausting sport to play at the professional level, with mental and physical demands unlike anything else. The ATP tour lasts for the better part of a year, with just a six week offseason between the ATP Tour Finals and the start of the next season in Australia.

During the 10 month season, a player has to cope with brutal heat in many of the tournaments, the US Open is a great example of this, with matches that can last for hours in a grueling mental tete-a-tete. Doing this, and winning 100 titles, during a down time for the sport would be hard enough, but Federer has had to fight and compete during a “Big Four” era, where he, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray have all had their time at the top.

Federer though has, more often than not, come out on top.

He created his spot as the premier player in his sport because of his versatility and ability to play on all the different surfaces. Federer has been able to switch between hard, clay, and grass courts, winning on them all. He is an outstanding shot maker, his YouTube highlight shots are insane, and he has such good footwork that Federer gives the impression he would have excelled at whichever sport he chose.

Perhaps most importantly, Federer has shown to be a beacon of class and sportsmanship throughout his career that has seen him act as a vital mentor for young players around the world. He has received the ATP Tour Sportsmanship Award 13 times, was named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year a record five times, and the British based BBC Overseas Sports personality of the Year Award of four occasions.

Federer has won north of 120 million in prize money over the course of his 20-year career. That doesn’t even take into account the money that this premier player has made through sponsorships. It is sad that men’s tennis in America has fallen to the point that there has been no real rival to the Swiss superstar from the US, because then his epic career would have had more play in this country.

The Rodger Federer Foundation, started and chaired by the star, supports education throughout southern Africa and Switzerland. Federer is a star that loves to give back and the foundation has helped over 1 million children at this point. He has donated over $50 million of his own money to charity during his career, leaving a legacy of success and greatness both on the court and on the world as a whole.

Article by Steve Wright
Independent Writer