• Maria Sharapova announced that she will retire from tennis
  • Kobe Bryant was a big influence on Sharapova's career
  • Kobe's tragic passing was a factor in Sharapova's decision to retire

The tragic and sudden passing of basketball great Kobe Bryant has not only affected the NBA but athletes and people across the world. Kobe was a man of hard work and expected nothing but excellence from everyone. His Mamba Mentality to this day continues to inspire beyond the borders of the hardwood court.

He is known to mentor and inspire athletes outside basketball and is known to be an avid tennis fan. The Black Mamba took up the sport with Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka and fell in love with it quickly. He’s transitioned to the new sport to the point that he has also co-authored a book called Legacy and The Queen that takes place in a tennis environment.

Maria Sharapova is one of these athletes that Kobe has mentored. Sharapova has made recent news with her retirement announcement through her Vanity Fair essay.

The five-time Grand Slam Champion shared that it was time for her to step away competitively. She battled controversy and nagging injuries for the past few years. Her most major bout was the pain she was feeling from her right shoulder. Per the New York Times, Sharapova was supposed to meet up with Kobe a few days after his untimely passing. She was scheduled to consult the Black Mamba for advice regarding her physical injuries. “We were supposed to see each other like three days after the crash,” said Sharapova.

“I think we all seem at times in our journey like larger than life because of what we do, but everyone at the core is incredibly fragile,” she contemplated as to how the news of Kobe and his daughter Gigi broke the hearts of the world. “And if anything it just opens up your eyes to what really matters in life, so that was a moment where I had a really good think about my future as well.” It was a turning point to her discernment on retirement as Kobe was one of the people who set aside time for her to help in her struggles.

The tennis icon shared that the sport has been her mountain and she’s ready to move forward to a different one in her life. “ After 28 years and five Grand Slam titles, though, I’m ready to scale another mountain—to compete on a different type of terrain. ”