Maria Sharapova started 2019 bearing hopes for a better outcome compared to the previous season. According to ESPN, She chose the WTA International-level event in Shenzhen, China as her starting point. Winning her first two matches brought her into a quarterfinals test against the young star Aryna Sabalenka.

Unfortunately, Sharapova was forced to retire during the second set, having previously lost the opening one by 6-1. The world No. 29 according to the WTA official page, Sharapova's streak of bad luck seems to keep going.

Sharapova, 31, is far from showing signs of consistency and the general perception is that the doping scandal completely derailed her career.

The downfall started back in 2016

In March 2016, during a press conference held in Los Angeles, Maria Sharapova came forward by admitting she had flunked a drug test for Meldonium, a recently banned substance at the time she had used to take for years.

More than a year later, Sharapova started her comeback bid during the clay season in Stuttgart. A more than decent run propelled her into the semis, and, at that point, it seemed only fair to assume that her bid to reach tennis heights once more is just a matter of time.

But none of that came true as the injuries and lack of results started pilling up. The lack of consistency is what threatens Sharapova's future as a tennis star. The amount of time a player can survive off past fame is rather limited.

And, for the Russian, the clock is ticking away. She will turn 32 in April and the prospect of some solid Tennis results in the future is fading away.

Pre-banning stats might never be matched again

Prior to her suspension from the game, Maria Sharapova was a solid Top 5 presence. One can remember that she remains the only active player apart from Serena Williams who has achieved a Career Slam.

On top of that, she was a Grand Slam runner-up on other five different occasions. With a total of ten Grand Slam final appearances in an eleven-year span, Sharapova remains an influential name in the women's tennis field.

The grim aspect is Sharapova may never deliver that killer tennis she used to be known for years ago. The lack of stamina and fitness seems to have turned her into an average player who lives off her past fame.

Therefore, it's no surprise that since her 2016 comeback she was able to barely win a WTA International title. When it comes to the Grand Slam field, her 2018 French Open quarterfinal appearance remains the sole grain of light in a very dark period of her career.

With the 2019 Australian Open knocking at the door, the 2008 edition winner might want to push for more, even though the current possibilities are limited.