Sharapova: I didn't expect to play past Rio 2016
Maria Sharapova has revealed she previously expected to retire from tennis after the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In an interview with Hamptons Magazine, Sharapova discussed her mindset following the 2015 Australian Open final, when she was giving serious consideration to ending her career after losing to Serena Williams.
"I'd been playing professionally since I was very young, and there were certainly moments in life where you want to feel like a normal person," said Sharapova.
"You want to be there for your friends and for your family, when they need you and not just when you can. Going into another press conference after a loss, and everything that you built on the court, in 15 minutes getting punished for losing a match ... it makes you think.
"In that period of my career, retirement was very much [on my mind]. I have so many other passions in my life as well, and although tennis has [been] the core of my life in the past 30 years, as a woman, there's so much to look forward to. I was 28; at that stage, I never really thought that I'd play past Rio."
Sharapova was ultimately forced to spend time away from the court due to a 15-month ban for violating anti-doping rules at last year's Australian Open.
"It's funny, what I play for is so different now than what I played for when I was younger," she added.
"When you're away from something for a long time, you realise what you really miss and why. There are so many things in tennis that I don't really get in other parts in my life: I play for the competition; I play for the victories that I can earn with my team, who also help me be the player that I am, who work with me on a daily basis.
"There's a lot that I play for, and what happened was a roadblock. [But] I don't have that mindset to use something like that as ammunition. It's never really been the way that I think."