I turned on Tennis Channel a while ago, and there it was again--that footage of Maria Sharapova "explaining" to the press why--what with everything she's achieved and all the injury she's had to endure--she doesn't retire from professional tennis. She has "everything," we always hear--fame, a lot of money, a Career Slam. She's had ongoing shoulder problems. And then she tells the press, over and over, that she's an athlete and what she wants to do is to play her sport.
It isn't that we haven't heard a similar question asked about and of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. They are both "old" for their sport, they've won a truckload of majors, and--in Federer's case--he has four children; in Serena's, she's had multiple injuries and a life-threatening illness. The question is somewhat more relevant for them, and yet it doesn't come up with them nearly as often as it does for Sharapova.
Today, Lindsay Davenport told us that Sharapova has "good excuses" to leave the sport, but she doesn't leave. Really? So if tomorrow, Sharapova were to say that she was tired of dealing with her shoulder or that she wanted to concentrate on being an entrepreneur, it would be an "excuse"? Sorry--the pun cannot be escaped here--but the backhanded compliments poured on Sharapova by the media have become a bit obvious.
I think Maria needs to stop explaining herself to the press (though there isn't anything she can do about the Tennis Channel gang dragging out old video so that we can all go through the whole thing all over again). Enough. When and why she retires is her business. And even those who are not fans of the Russian star would surely have to acknowledge that she has overcome great odds more than once to achieve great things in her sport.
Yes, she's an international star. Yes, she's very rich. Yes, she has looks that help her make money. But she's also smart. And--what's that other thing? Ah, yes, she's a dedicated, hard-working, talented athlete.