MARIA SHARAPOVA took time to console her distraught opponent Wang Xinyu, when the teenager was forced to retire mid-game due to injury.
The Russian ace’s first game of the year at the Shenzhen Open ended prematurely, but in an impressive demonstration of sportsmanship the tennis ace took time to sit with the 17-year-old and dished out words of encouragement.
Xinyu enetered the tournament in China as a wild card, having pinched two junior Grand Slam titles last year and held her own by claiming the first set over the five-time Grand slam champion.
After one hour and 47 minutes of vigorous play, the youngest player in the tournament was forced to retire due to cramps, seemingly occurring around a pre-existing injury.
The former world No.1 found herself having to come back from a deficit in the second set, but as she clawed back to 3-2 Xinyu was forced to take a medical time out.
After attempting one more point, the Chinese wonderkid returned to her chair and as a result forfeited two games and was deemed unable to carry on, the game was wrapped up with a result of 6-7 (4), 5-2.
Upon hearing the announcement that the game was over, Sharapova immediately moved to sit with the youngster who was visibly upset.
While Xinyu received medical treatment, the 31-year-old Russian ace checked that she was drinking enough fluids and draped a towel around the injured youngster.
The incredible act of sportsmanship continued, as the tennis star took time to praise Xinyu’s efforts.
Sharapova said: “You played unbelievable. Take care of yourself. If you play like that you’re going to be No.1 ok? I promise.”
Xinyu winced as the medical team treated her injury so the Russian tried to make light of the situation, Sharapova said: “Cramps suck. You’re going to be ok.”
The pair chuckled as Sharapova continued to console the teenager and the Russian led the applause as Xinyu made her way off court.
While Sharapova now finds herself in the quarter finals, she has also gained a legion of new fans across social media.
Despite her chequered history, the Russian ace was trending on Twitter thanks to her kind act.
Fellow tennis player Donna Vekic tweeted a picture of a clapping emoji hailing Sharpova’s sportsmanship.
While another claimed that the act in China today was just one example of the Russian’s incredibly generous nature.
Sharapova will face Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the quarters as she attempts to lift the trophy at the Shenzhen Open.
Down under, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are both out of the Brisbane International.
The British tennis star lost 7-5, 6-2 to Russian world No.16 Daniil Medvedev in the second round.
Shortly before Murray exited, Nadal announced he was withdrawing from the first ATP event of the 2019 season as an injury precaution.
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