- Maria Sharapova has announced her surprise return to competitive sports
- She will compete alongside fellow former tennis star McEnroe in a new sport
- The pair will win a big cash prize if they beat Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi
Former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova has announced her surprise return to competitive sport.
The 36-year-old announced her retirement from tennis in 2020 after a spectacular career which saw her win five Grand Slams having first risen to fame when she beat top seed and defending champion Serena Williams on Centre Court in 2004.
Sharapova looks to be ready to compete on the court once again after announcing she will take part in the second running of Pickleball Slam alongside fellow former tennis star John McEnroe.
‘I’m playing pickleball,’ Sharapova announced in her video message sent out on social media.
‘And not just any pickleball, I am playing with John McEnroe against Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi.
Former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova is set to make her return to the court
She will compete alongside fellow former tennis star McEnroe in a doubles match of Pickleball
‘February 4, in Miami, at the Hard Rock [Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida], it’s the Pickleball Slam 2.’
She added: ‘Dare I say I’m getting a little competitive, and slightly nervous and anxious?
‘But don’t mind me, I can’t wait to see you there, tune in, watch us, support us. Let’s go team… what’s our name?’
The winner of the doubles match will win a £815,352 ($1million) cash prize.
Pickleball is a cutdown version of tennis and is played on a smaller court with plastic balls and paddles.
It has exploded in popularity in recent years and is the fastest growing sport in the United States with an estimated 36 million players.
The sport now has high-profile team owners which include Lebron James, Nick Kyrgios and Naomi Osaka.
Pickleball is a cutdown version of tennis and is played on a smaller court with plastic balls and paddles
Sharapova rose to fame when she beat Serena Williams on Centre Court aged 17 in 2004
During her storied time on court, Sharapova become the first Russian player to complete the career Grand Slam after wins in Melbourne, New York, Paris and London and the third-youngest woman to triumph at Wimbledon.
But her career was marred by a 2016 failed drugs test, which saw Sharapova suspended for two years after she was found to have ingested meldonium, a substance which had been banned at the start of that year, ahead of the Australian Open.
Her suspension was later reduced to 15 months after she was found to have taken the drug as per her doctor’s advice, and Sharapova returned to competition in April 2017, and won the Tianjin Open seven months later.
After struggling with chronic shoulder issues for a number of years, Sharapova announced her retirement in 2020, sharing an emotional goodbye message with her followers that spoke to her deep connection to the game.
Post source: Daily mail