Maria Sharapova is ranked as the world’s number 4 female professional tennis player, and is from Bradenton in Florida, although born in Russia SFSR, and Soviet Union. She turned pro in April 2001, has been ranked world number one in singles by the WTA for a total of 21 weeks on five different occasions. She is the only Russian and one of ten women to achieve a career Grand Slam and earned a silver Olympic medalist in women singles, which she received at the Summer Olympics held in London in 2012.
Early playing history
Maria Sharapova was born in Nyagan, in the Russian SFSR during 1987, her parents both from Gomel, Belarusian SSR, left their homeland concerned about the effects of the Chernobyl 1986 nuclear power plant disaster before she was born.
Aged 2 her family moved to Sochi, in the Krasnodar Krai region of Russia in 1989 and her father became friends with Aleksandr Kafelnikov, his son Yevgeny won two Grand Slam singles crowns and became the first Russian number one ranked male tennis player. Sharapova got her first racquet from Aleksandr when she was 4 years old in 1991 and she began practicing with her dad at the local park. Her starting tennis lessons were with Yuri Yutkin the well-known Russian Coach, he was immediately impressed with her extraordinary hand-eye coordination.
Aged six in 1993, she attended Martina Navratilova’s tennis clinic in Moscow; Navratilova made a recommendation for Maria to receive professional training from Nick Bollettieri’s Tennis Academy in Florida, where Monica Seles, Anna Kournikova, and Andre Agassi had previously trained. Sharapova’s father borrowed money, and while neither of them could speak English they travelled to the United State in 1994, her mother could only join Maria and her dad two years later due to Visa restrictions.
Arriving in the U.S with $700, Sharapova’s dad took low paying jobs to pay for the lessons until Maria gained admission to the academy. She received an offer from IMG and was forced to change academies and after signing the deal in 1995, IMG agreed to pay a $35,000 fee for her to remain in the academy, allowing her to enroll when she was 9 years old.
Rise to the top
In 2000, Maria won the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships, aged 13, was awarded a Rising Star Award. She made her first professional appearance on her 14th birthday in 2001 and played her 1st WTA tournament appearing at the 2002 Pacific Life Open. In these junior tournaments, she made it through to the finals in girls singles event in the Tennis Australian Open and the 2002 Wimbledon, she made history as the youngest ever to reach a final of the Tennis Australian Open junior championships aged 14.
In 2003, Sharapova climbed rapidly into the top 50 by the end of the year after playing a full season, Maria appeared in her debut at the French Open and the Tennis Australian open, but did not win any matches. As a wildcard at Wimbledon she won Jelena Dokic ranked number 11 and won her first over top 20 player, Maria reached the 4th round and lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova. By end September she heard won her first WTA at the Japan Open Tennis Championship and the Bell Challenge tournament.
In 2004, Sharapova felt defeat by the hands of Anastasia Myskina in the Tennis Australian Open’s third round, reached the Cellular South Cup semi-finals, and lost to Vera Zvonareva. She entered the top 20 WTA rankings by reaching the 3rd round at Internazionali BNL d’Italia and Qatar Telecom German Open both of which were Tier I events. She then won her third title at Wimbledon and was ranked number 13, while aged 17 and reached a 1st Grand Slam semi-final and won it by defeating Anastasia Myskina and won her first Grand Slam singles title as the 3rd youngest to win any Wimbledon title.
She then won three of six matches and at the U.S Open Maria got through to the third round and won sequential titles in the Asian continent and in the Japan Open Tennis Championships and the Hansol Korea Open Tennis Championships. Sharapova made the final by defeating Venus Williams in the Zurich Open and lost the final to Alicia Molik.
In 2003 to end off her first season as a professional female tennis player Sharapova received the WTA Newcomer of the Year award. She achieved her third title at the Wimbledon DFS Classic by defeating Tatiana Golovin in her final to become the second Russian female to win a Grand Slam singles title. This victory was described in the media as the most stunning upset in memory and writers said she was a serious challenger to the dominance of Williams.
Sharapova ended the year by winning the WTA Finals in her debut during 2004. She became the world number one player in August 2005 when she was 18 years old and held the rank for the fifth time in 2012 from the 11th of June to the 8th of July. With five Grand Slam and 35 singles crowns, one each in the Tennis Australian Open, U.S Open & Wimbledon and two at the French Open she ranked third actively playing behind Venus and her sister Serena Williams.
She achieved a rare longevity level and won at least one singles title per year from 2003 to 2015 and several former players called Sharapova one of the best tennis competitors, while John McEnroe called her the best the sport has ever seen.
She was named one of the 30 Legends of Women’s Tennis: Past, Present and Future by the Time and in March 2012 she was named one of the 100 Greatest of All Times by the Tennis Channel.
Fun facts about Maria Sharapova
Sharapova’s modeling assignments included the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and she featured in many advertisements for Prince, Nike, as well as Canon, and was the face of several fashion houses. She holds a position as a United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador since 2007, concerned with the Chernobyl Recovery and Development Programme.
She finds British accents sexy and London is one of her favorite cities, while her hobbies include dancing, singing, and watching movies. She launched Sugarpova a successful candy line and her favorite colors are pink and yellow.