Maria Yuryevna Sharapova is a professional tennis player of Russian descent. She has been ranked number 1 in the worldwide ranking of professional women tennis players in 2005.
Her total time as world’s number one is 21 weeks. She was only 18 years old when she earned the title. Maria became a professional player when she was only 13 years old and has actively competed in the WTA Tour since 2001.
She is the only woman Russian tennis player that holds a career grand slam title.
Although a permanent US Resident in Manhattan Beach, California, Maria remains to this day a Russian citizen. In fact, she represented Russia in the 2012 Summer Olympics. She won the silver medal in the women’s singles, losing to a 6-0, 6-1 match against Serena Williams.
She has also modeled for different brands and was featured in multiple advertisements.
She was named one of the “30 Legends of Women’s Tennis: The Past, Present, and Future” and “100 Greatest of All Time.”
She is also the highest paid female athlete for eleven years.
She was born on April 19, 1987, in Nyagan, Russian SFSR. Two years after she was born, her family then moved to Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia.
Growing up, Maria was influenced by her parents’ interest in tennis. She even impressed the Russian coach and trainer, Yuri Yutkin with her playing style. She constantly practiced in the park after being gifted with her very first racket. She received her first real racket when she was four years old.
Her father once befriended Aleksandr Kafelnicov, father of another famous tennis player, Yevgeny Kafelnicov. She attended a tennis clinic in 1993 that was run by Martina Navratilova in Moscow. Martina is a retired tennis player and coach. She has trained there for a year before moving to the United States with her father.
Her father used to work in the construction industry and he met her mother in their hometown in Gomel. Her father, Yuri Sharapova, worked in the Siberian Oilfields while in Nyagan. Her mother, Yelena Sharapova attended to her.
Being fans of tennis, both her parents gave her a make-shift racket, not being able to afford a real child-size racket.
Due to problems with her visa, her mother chose to stay behind in Sochi, as Maria was accompanied by her father to join the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton. Her mother joined them about two years later.
Her tennis career didn’t take off immediately. She wasn’t able to enroll at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy, given the reason that she was too young and that admission to the academy was an invite-only basis.
However, after personal coaching and English lessons, Maria tried out at the Academy two years later and earned a full-term scholarship. When she was eleven years old, she signed with a coach, Robert Landscorp, and the tennis agency, International Management Group (IMG). It was around this time that she had started her first deals with Nike.
She has stunned the world and even the popular tennis player, Serena Williams when she has defeated her in the Wimbledon Championships in 2004. She became the third youngest champion in all of the tournaments in tennis history.
Even before that, she has already started making a name for herself as a runner-up in both the 2002 Australian Open and Wimbledon Championships. Her victory over Serena Williams skyrocketed her to fame. She then joined the US Open among other Asian competitions.
In 2005, she rose to the number one ranking. She defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Australian Open, making her second Grand Slam semifinal. She then won successively in the Toray Pan Pacific Open and Qatar Total Open. She had to constantly defend her position in the rankings against Lindsay Davenport.
Through the years, she continued reaching semifinals and final rounds of various tennis tournaments. She suffered a shoulder injury in 2007, making her skip most of the tournaments during the year. This resulted in her drop from the top five in the rankings.
She suffered another shoulder injury in 2008 and started the rehabilitation of injured part in 2009. She made her comeback in the top 10 of the rankings in 2011. However, in a match against Petra Kvitova, Maria suffered an ankle injury. She returned to the top spot in the rankings in 2012. It was during this time as well that she was asked to carry the Russian flag in the 2012 Olympics which made her the first female Russian flag bearer.
Her success continued as she remained active in the sport.
Her biggest setback was her suspension in 2016 after she failed her drug test examinations. She tested positive for Meldonium.
Despite getting more injuries, Maria continued playing for tournaments until her announcement on March 07, 2016, that she had tested positive. The drug, when taken in high doses, can be a performance enhancer. It wasn’t included on the banned list until early 2016.
She reasoned that her family doctor had prescribed the medicine for ten years already as a countermeasure for her symptoms of diabetes. It was announced on June 08, 2016 that she would be suspended from playing professionally for two years. However, after filing an appeal in the arbitrary court, it was lowered down to fifteen months.
She returned back to the tennis court in April 2017 where she made her first win since her return by defeating Roberta Vinci.
As of 2017, highest prize money is at $36, 574, 188. She ranked number 29 in the Forbes 2011 50 top-paid athletes and was the only woman on the list. She also has created her own candy line in partnership with Jeff Rubin and named it Sugarpova.
With all her ventures and milestones reached, Maria Sharapova has a net worth of $125 million.