HAPPY 24TH BIRTHDAY MARIA!!! AND THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING THE PAST ALMOST 9 YEARS!!!
Sharapova was born in 1987 to Yuri and Yelena, ethnic Russians, in the town of Nyagan' in Siberia, Russia. Her parents moved from Gomel, Belarus after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 affected the region. When Sharapova was two, the family moved to Sochi where her father befriended Aleksandr Kafelnikov, whose son Yevgeny would go on to win two Grand Slam singles titles and became Russia's first ever World No. 1 tennis player. Aleksandr gave Sharapova her first tennis racket at the age of four, where upon she began practicing regularly with her father in a local park. She took her first tennis lessons with veteran Russian coach Yuri Yutkin, who was instantly impressed when he first saw her, noting her "exceptional hand-eye co-ordination."
At the age of seven, Sharapova attended a tennis clinic in Moscow run by Martina Navrátilová, who recommended professional training at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida, which had previously trained players such as Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Anna Kournikova. With money tight, Yuri was forced to borrow the sum that would allow him and his daughter, neither of whom could speak English, to travel to America, which they finally did in 1994. Visa restrictions prevented Sharapova's mother from joining them for two years. Arriving in Florida with just $700 to his name, Sharapova's father took various low-paying jobs, including dish-washing, to fund her lessons until she was old enough to be admitted to the academy. In 1995, she was signed by IMG, who agreed to pay the annual tuition fee of $35,000 for Sharapova to stay at the academy, allowing her to finally enroll at the age of 9
Sharapova was defeated in the third round of the Australian Open by seventh seed Anastasia Myskina. The highlight of the remainder of her spring hardcourt season was a run to the semifinals at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships and the Cellular South Cup, where she ultimately lost to Vera Zvonareva.
During the spring clay court season, Sharapova entered the top 20 on the WTA world rankings as a result of reaching the third round of the Qatar Telecom German Open and the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, both of which were Tier I events. At the latter event, she defeated a player ranked inside the top 10 for the first time with a straight-sets win over World No. 10 Elena Dementieva. Later that clay court season, she went on to make the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time at the French Open, losing there to Paola Suárez.
Sharapova won the third title of her career at the Wimbledon warm-up DFS Classic, defeating Tatiana Golovin in the final. Seeded 13th and aged 17 at Wimbledon, she reached her first Grand Slam semifinal by defeating Ai Sugiyama. There, she came back from a 6–2, 3–1 deficit to defeat fifth seed and former champion Lindsay Davenport. In the final, Sharapova upset top seed and defending champion Serena Williams to win her first Grand Slam singles title, and become the third youngest woman to win the Wimbledon title, behind only Lottie Dod and Martina Hingis. Sharapova also became the second Russian woman (after Anastasia Myskina had won the year's previous major at Roland Garros) to win a grand slam singles title. The victory was hailed as "the most stunning upset in memory", with other writers commenting on her arrival as a serious challenger to the Williams' dominance at Wimbledon. She entered the top ten in the rankings for the first time as a result of the win.
Following her Wimbledon win, attention and interest in Sharapova in the media greatly increased, a rise in popularity dubbed as "Maria Mania." However, on court, she was struggling to achieve results, winning just three of six matches in her preparations for the US Open. At the US Open itself, she reached the third round before being eliminated by Mary Pierce. In order to regain confidence, Sharapova played and won consecutive titles in Asia in the fall, the Hansol Korea Open Tennis Championships and the Japan Open Tennis Championships.
In October, Sharapova defeated Venus Williams en route to making the final of a Tier I event for the first time at the Zurich Open, losing in the final to Alicia Molik. She then made her debut at the year-ending WTA Tour Championships. There, she won two of her three round-robin matches (including a win over US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova) in order to advance to the semifinals, where she defeated Myskina. In the final, she defeated Serena Williams 4–6, 6–2, 6–4, after trailing 4–0 in the final set.
Sharapova started the year at the Australian Open, where she defeated fifth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach the second Grand Slam semifinal of her career. Sharapova held match points in the third set of her semifinal match before losing to eventual champion Serena Williams. In February, Sharapova won back-to-back tournaments, the Toray Pan Pacific Open and the Qatar Total Open, allowing her to reach the top three on the world rankings for the first time.
In the semifinals of the Tier I Pacific Life Open, Sharapova was defeated by Davenport 6–0, 6–0, the first time she had failed to win a game in a match. The following fortnight, she defeated former World No. 1 players Justine Henin and Venus Williams to reach the final at the Tier I NASDAQ-100 Open, where she lost to Kim Clijsters.
Sharapova made the semifinals of a clay-court tournament for the first time at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, where she lost to Patty Schnyder. Sharapova would have become the World No. 1 for the first time had she won the tournament. Sharapova then reached the quarterfinals of the French Open for the second consecutive year, before losing to eventual champion Henin. On grass, Sharapova won her third title of the year when she successfully defended her title at the DFS Classic, defeating Jelena Janković in the final. As the defending champion at Wimbledon, Sharapova reached the semifinals without dropping a set and losing a service game just once, extending her winning streak on grass to 24 matches. However, she was then beaten by eventual champion Venus Williams.
A back injury sustained by World No. 1 Davenport at Wimbledon prevented her from playing tournaments during the summer hardcourt season, which meant she could not earn new ranking points to replace those that were expiring from the previous year. Sharapova, although also injured for much of this time, had far fewer points to defend, and so she became the first Russian woman to hold the World No. 1 ranking on August 22, 2005. Her reign lasted only one week, however, as Davenport reclaimed the top ranking after winning the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament.
As the top seed at the US Open, Sharapova lost in the semifinals to Kim Clijsters, meaning she had lost to the eventual champion in every Grand Slam of the season. However, she once again leapfrogged Davenport to take the World No. 1 ranking on September 12, 2005. She retained it for six weeks, but after playing few tournaments while injured, she again relinquished the ranking to Davenport. To conclude the year, Sharapova failed to defend her title at the year-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, defeating Davenport in one of her round-robin matches but ultimately losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Amélie Mauresmo.
Sharapova started 2006 by losing in the semifinals of the Australian Open in three sets to Henin, also losing a rematch several weeks later at the Dubai Tennis Championships, having defeated former World No. 1 Martina Hingis and World No. 3 Lindsay Davenport in earlier rounds of the tournament. Sharapova claimed her first title in nine months at the Tier I tournament in Indian Wells, defeating Hingis in the semifinals and Elena Dementieva in the final. The following fortnight, she reached the final in Miami before losing to Kuznetsova.
Missing the entire clay court season with injury, Sharapova returned for the French Open. There, after saving match points in defeating Mashona Washington in the first round, she was eliminated by Dinara Safina in the fourth round.
On grass, Sharapova was unsuccessful in her attempt to win in Birmingham for the third consecutive year, losing instead in the semifinals to Jamea Jackson. Despite that, she was among the title favorites at Wimbledon, where the eventual champion Mauresmo ended up beating her in the semifinals.
Sharapova claimed her second title of the year at the Tier I Acura Classic, defeating Clijsters for the first time in the final. As the third seed at the US Open, Sharapova defeated top seed Mauresmo for the first time in the semifinals, and then followed up by beating second seed Justine Henin in order to win her second Grand Slam singles title.
That autumn, Sharapova won titles in back-to-back weeks at the Zurich Open and the Generali Ladies Linz. By winning all three of her round-robin matches at the WTA Tour Championships, she extended her win streak to 19 matches, before it was snapped in the semifinals by eventual champion Henin. Sharapova would have finished the season as World No. 1 had she won the event. As it was, she finished ranked World No. 2, her best finish at the closing of a year yet.
Sharapova was seeded fifth at the Australian Open, but was not considered a favorite. Nevertheless, she defeated former World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport in the second round, and then World No. 1 Henin in the quarterfinals, ending the latter's 32-match winning streak. She proceeded to the finals, where she defeated Ana Ivanović to win her third Grand Slam title, having not dropped a set all tournament.
Sharapova playing at the Pacific Life Open in 2008.
After the Australian Open, Sharapova extended her winning streak to 18 matches. This run encompassed two wins in singles rubbers when making her debut for Russia in the Fed Cup against Israel and victory at the Tier I Qatar Total Open. Her winning streak was ended in the semifinals of the Pacific Life Open by Kuznetsova. In April, Sharapova won the Bausch & Lomb Championships, having survived her longest ever match, at 3 hours and 26 minutes long, in the third round against Anabel Medina Garrigues. The following week, at the Family Circle Cup, she lost in the quarterfinals to Serena Williams, her fourth consecutive loss to the American.
In May, Sharapova regained the World No. 1 ranking because of Henin's sudden retirement from professional tennis and request to the WTA that her own ranking be removed immediately. As the top-seeded player at the French Open Sharapova was within two points of being knocked out by Evgeniya Rodina in the first round, before eventually winning. As a result of losing to Dinara Safina in the fourth round, she was forced to relinquish her No. 1 ranking. Her dip in form continued at Wimbledon, where she lost in the second round to World No. 154 Alla Kudryavtseva. This was her earliest loss ever at Wimbledon, and at any Grand Slam in almost five years.
Sharapova withdrew from the Rogers Cup tournament in August due to a shoulder injury. A MRI scan then revealed that she had been suffering from a rotator cuff tear since April, forcing her out of all tournaments for the rest of the season, including the Beijing Olympics, the US Open and the WTA Tour Championships. In spite of that, she still managed to finish the year ranked World No. 9. In October, after a failed attempt to rehabilitate the shoulder, Sharapova had surgery to repair the tear.
It was announced that Sharapova would bring in Thomas Hogstedt as a coach for the 2011 season, joining Michael Joyce. On December 5, Maria played an exhibition match against World No. 2 Vera Zvonareva in Monterrey, Mexico. She would go on to win that match, 6–1, 7–5.
Sharapova would quickly be confirmed for her first tournament of the year, the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, held from January 4 to 9. She was also announced to be leading the Russia Fed Cup team against France in February, in their first-round tie.
In her first ever official Australian Open warm-up tournament at the ASB Classic in Auckland, she was the top seed. Sharapova beat Alberta Brianti and Renata Voráčová in straight-set matches, before being defeated by the Hungarian veteran Gréta Arn, who went on to take the title.
After the ASB Classic Sharapova decided to take a hiatus from Joyce's coaching, despite having worked together for a number of years including during her successful years where she became a multiple grand slam champion.
Sharapova participated in the first grand slam of the season at the Australian Open, where she was the 14th seeded player. She made it into the second round after beating former doubles partner, Tamarine Tanasugarn 6–1, 6–3 on Rod Laver Arena. Sharapova then defeated Virginie Razzano in round two 7–6, (7–3), 6–3 on Hisense Arena. In the third round she faced Julia Görges of Germany; after an episode in which officials dealt with and resolved an under-court air bubble which kept the ball from bouncing at a certain spot on the court, Sharapova advanced to the fourth round. In the fourth round, she displayed her on-going inconsistency, hitting many unforced errors and double faults, and was defeated by Andrea Petkovic 2–6, 3–6.
After a Fed Cup tie against France, which she lost to Virginie Razzano, Sharapova withdrew from the Open GDF Suez in Paris. She also had to pull out of Dubai due to an ear infection.
Sharapova returned to the tour in March by taking part in the first premier mandatory tournament of the year, the 2011 BNP Paribas Open, where she was seeded 16th. After a first round bye she defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues, 7–5, 6–7(3), 6–1, 20th seed Aravane Rezai 6–2, 6–2, former World No. 1 Dinara Safina, 6–2, 6–0 and Shuai Peng, 6–2, 5–7, 6–3 to reach the semifinals where she lost to World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 1–6, 2–6.
Sharapova's next tournament would be at the second premier mandatory tournament, the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Miami. As she was the 16th seed, she received a bye to the second round where she dismissed Petra Martic 6–3, 6–2 in a little over an hour. In the third round, she won convincingly against Sabine Lisicki 6–2, 6–0 in a 58 minute match where she won 10 consecutive games to advance to the fourth round. She defeated World No. 4 Samantha Stosur, 6–4, 6–1 and improving her lopsided head-to-head to 7-0. This victory marks her first top five win since defeating Ana Ivanovic in the 2008 Australian Open final. In the quarterfinals, she defeated 26th seed Alexandra Dulgheru in an epic three-hour match prevailing, 3–6, 7–6(6), 7–6(5). In the semifinals, she defeated Andrea Petkovic 3–6, 6–0, 6–2, avenging her loss at the 2011 Australian Open. In the final, her shaky and error-prone form lead her to a one-sided loss to Victoria Azarenka, 1–6, 4–6, despite a late comeback. By reaching the semifinals, she guaranteed her return to the top 10 for the first time since February 1, 2009.
Upon reaching the Sony Ericcson Open semifinals, Sharapova refused her wildcard offer to the 2011 Family Circle Cup. She is scheduled to begin her clay season at the premier mandatory tournament at the 2011 Mutua Madrileńa Open.
Outside of Tennis
Sharapova has lived in the United States since moving there at the age of seven. She has a home in Manhattan Beach, California. Sharapova lists fashion, movies, music and reading the Sherlock Holmes and Pippi Longstocking series as among her off-court interests, while she has also talked in the past about how she takes hip-hop dance classes. Sharapova has a Pomeranian named Dolce, which means "sweet" in Italian.
At the 2004 US Open, Sharapova, along with several other Russian female tennis players, wore a black ribbon in observance of the tragedy after the Beslan school hostage crisis, which took place only days before. In 2005, she donated around US$50,000 to those affected by the crisis. On February 14, 2007, Sharapova was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and donated US$210,000 to UNDP Chernobyl-recovery projects. She stated at the time that she was planning to travel back to the area after Wimbledon in 2008, though it didn't happen as she had to travel back to the US because of shoulder injury. She fulfilled the trip in late June – early July 2010. With Haynes, Kirilenko, Vaidišová, Stubbs, Governor Bush and Capriati, Sharapova participated in an exhibition in Tampa in December 2004, raising money for the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund.
In July 2008, Sharapova sent a message on DVD to the memorial service of Emily Bailes, who had performed the coin toss ahead of the 2004 Wimbledon final that Sharapova had gone on to win.
Sharapova helped promote the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Sharapova has often implied that she desires an early retirement. Following the retirement of 25-year-old Justine Henin, Sharapova said, "If I was 25 and I'd won so many Grand Slams, I'd quit too." In an interview after the 2008 Australian Open, she balked at the idea of playing for another ten years, saying that she hoped to have a "nice husband and a few kids" by then.
Sharapova is engaged to Slovenian born professional basketball player Sasha Vujačić, who plays for the New Jersey Nets. The two have been dating since 2009.
Sharapova is a stamp collector and has a "huge collection" compiled since she was a child.
US Open 2006:
Australian Open 2008: