Maria Sharapova announced herself to the tennis world a 17-year-old, beating Serena Williams to win Wimbledon in 2004. She since went on to claim another four Grand Slam titles before calling time on her career.
Sharapova revealed in an article with Vanity Fair that she was “saying goodbye” to tennis due to ongoing injury problems.
Her boyfriend Alexander Gilkes took social media to pay tribute to the Russian star.
He wrote on Instagram [sic]: “To the kindest and most professional person I know, here is to you Maria, and all that awaits you in your next chapter!
“May you continue to inspire us all with your deep humility, self-depreciation, strength and focus.
“As a remarkable first chapter closes with so many extraordinary fetes, we look forward to all that you will accomplish with equal grit in the years to come.
“Proudly and lovingly, xx.”
Who is Alexander Gilkes?
Gilkes is a 40-year-old businessman from London.
He is the co-founder and president of Paddle8, an online auction house specialising in fine art and collectables.
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To the kindest and most professional person I know, here is to you Maria, and all that awaits you in your next chapter! May you continue to inspire us all with your deep humility, self-depreciation, strength and focus. As a remarkable first chapter closes with so many extraordinary fetes, we look forward to all that you will accomplish with equal grit in the years to come. Proudly and lovingly, xx——— “How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known? How do you walk away from the courts you’ve trained on since you were a little girl, the game that you love—one which brought you untold tears and unspeakable joys—a sport where you found a family, along with fans who rallied behind you for more than 28 years? I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis—I’m saying goodbye.”
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Gilkes and Sharapova were first pictured together at Los Angeles’ LAX airport in January 2018.
They were spotted at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills a few months later and the pair now appear regularly together in public.
Gilkes celebrated his 40th birthday last summer in Andalusia, Spain, with girlfriend Sharapova among the attendees.
The tennis star donned a flamenco dress and shared pictures on her Instagram account with the message: “A weekend for the record books. Happy Birthday.”
Sharapova’s boyfriend was just one of many to share kind words on social media.
One fan wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations on a fantastic career and good luck for your next chapter.”
Another commented: “Dear @MariaSharapova, Go climb that mountain!
“And when you reach the top and look back down, we’ll be there cheering you on always and forever.”
A third added: “To the woman who broke the glass ceiling and showed the world that she is more than a pretty face.
Pioneers of modern women tennis @MariaSharapova announces retirement. Thank you for all the lovely memories. You are an inspiration.”
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