Maria SharapovaRussian Former Tennis Player
Maria Sharapova is a Russian former tennis player. She won her first grand slam title at Wimbledon in 2004 when she was 17 years old.
• Date of Birth: 19 April 1987
• Age: 35 years old
• Place of Birth: Nyagan, Russia
• Country (Sports): Russia
• Height: 188cm / 6ft 2ins
• Grand Slam Singles Titles: 5
• Turned Pro: 2001
• Retired: 2020
• Career Prize Money: $38,777,962 (£32.1m)
• Net Worth: $220m / £182m (Forbes, 2022)
Sharapova burst onto the scene at SW19 as a teenager, defeating title-holder Serena Williams in straight sets to claim the title at the All England Club.
Born in Nyagan, Russia, Sharapova first started playing tennis when she was around four years old, before moving to the United States with her father in 1994.
After a promising junior career, she won her first WTA title at the Japan Open Tennis Championships in 2003, before enjoying an impressive move up the rankings.
She went on to win Wimbledon the following year and ended up capturing a total of five grand slam titles in her glittering career and achieving the world number one ranking.
Sharapova is currently ranked at number four on the highest-paid female tennis players of all time and is estimated to have a net worth in the region of $220m (£182m).
So, what do we know about Maria Sharapova’s journey to becoming the talented tennis player she was? This is her story.
Early Life, Parents And Upbringing
Maria Sharapova (full name: Maria Yuryevna Sharapova) was born on 19 April 1987 in Nyagan, Russia, to parents Yuri Sharapov and Yelena.
Maria started playing tennis when she was around four years old when she began practising with her father at a local park.
“The first time I remember seeing a tennis court, my father was playing on it,” Sharapova said in 2020 in Vanity Fair. “I was four years old in Sochi, Russia—so small that my tiny legs were dangling off the bench I was sitting on. So small that the racket I picked up next to me was twice my size.”
She showed talent from an early age and in 1993 she caught the attention of tennis star Martina Navratilova. Following a suggestion by Navratilova, a six-year-old Sharapova and her father – neither of whom could speak English at the time – moved to Florida in the United States, where she quickly earned a scholarship to a tennis academy.
“When I first started playing, the girls on the other side of the net were always older, taller, and stronger,” Sharapova explains. “The tennis greats I watched on TV seemed untouchable and out of reach. But little by little, with every day of practice on the court, this almost mythical world became more and more real.”
Sharapova was a strong junior player and peaked at number six in the junior world rankings in October 2002.
In 2000, Sharapova won the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships in the girls’ 16 division at the age of just 13.
She won a total of three junior singles titles on the ITF circuit – all in 2001 – including grade four and five titles in California and South Carolina.
Sharapova also reached the finals of the girls’ singles events at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2002. Her win/loss ratio as a junior player in singles was 47/9.
First Grand Slam Title
After having turned professional in 2001 on her 14th birthday, Sharapova made her WTA tournament main-draw debut at the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells in March 2002. She was handed a wildcard into the first round and beat Brie Rippner to reach round two, where she lost to Monica Seles in straight sets.
Sharapova enjoyed something of a breakthrough year in 2003, when she played a full season and enjoyed a rapid rise up the WTA rankings.
She made her main-draw grand slam singles debut at the 2003 Australian Open after having come through qualifying, but lost to Klara Koukalova in the first round in Melbourne. She also came through qualifying to reach the first round of the 2003 French Open and then lost in the first round to Magui Serna.
Sharapova then enjoyed an impressive run at Wimbledon in 2003 after having been handed a wildcard into the main draw. She beat Ashley Harkleroad, Elena Bovina and Jelena Dokic to make it to round four, where she lost to fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova.
She won her first WTA title aged 16 at the Japan Open in Tokyo in October 2003, beating Aniko Kapros of Hungary in the final in three sets. Her second WTA title followed in November 2003 at Quebec City, when she overcame Milagros Sequera in the final.
Sharapova’s fine form had propelled her into the top 20 in the WTA rankings and she enjoyed a stellar run at the 2004 French Open, where she reached the quarter-finals of a grand slam for the first time. She lost to Paola Suarez of Argentina in the last eight in Paris.
After having claimed her third career WTA title in Birmingham in the lead-up to Wimbledon in 2004. Sharapova went on to make history at the All England Club.
Sharapova beat the likes of Daniela Hantuchova, Ai Sugiyama and Lindsay Davenport to set up a 2004 Wimbledon final showdown with Serena Williams. In the final, Sharapova sealed an impressive 6-1 6-4 victory to claim her first grand slam title, aged 17 years and 75 days.
“It’s unreal,” Sharapova said afterwards. “My father and I have been through this together and it’s just amazing. I know how tough it is to watch and playing is a lot easier so I owe him so much. It’s always been my dream to come here and win but it was never in my mind that I would do it this year.”
“When I came off court and saw my name on that board with all the champions, that was when I realised what I’d done.
Reflecting on her victory at Wimbledon in 2020, Sharapova said: “I was a naive 17-year-old, still collecting stamps, and didn’t understand the magnitude of my victory until I was older—and I’m glad I didn’t.”
Sharapova capped her sparkling year in 2004 by winning the WTA Tour finals, defeating Serena Williams in the final, 4–6, 6–2, 6–4.
“I’m still in shock,” Sharapova said after securing the victory in one hour and 46 minutes. “I can’t believe the way I pulled it out. It’s very unreal the way I stuck in there. It’s been an amazing year.”
More Progress And Later Career
Sharapova would go on to enjoy a sparkling tennis career, but her next grand slam title did not arrive until 2006 at the US Open.
There, she beat the likes of Li Na, Tatiana Golovin and Amelie Mauresmo to reach the final at Flushing Meadows, where she defeated Justine Henin in straight sets.
“The first thing that comes to mind when you go down in the ground, you think of everything you put into the moment,” Sharapova said afterwards. “Not just preparation that happened two weeks before the tournament but preparation that goes back to when I was a little girl.”
Sharapova won a further three grand slam titles during her career – the Australian Open in 2008, and the French Open in both 2012 and 2014. She was last ranked at number one in the world in August 2005.
Following a failed drug test from the 2016 Australian Open, in which she tested positive for meldonium, a substance that had been banned from 1 January 2016 by the World Anti-Doping Agency, Sharapova was provisionally suspended from competitive tennis with effect from 12 March.
On 8 June 2016, she was banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation. The suspension was later reduced to 15 months, starting from 26 January 2016 – which was the date of the drug test she had failed.
In February 2020, Sharapova announced her retirement from playing tennis after a 28-year career. Writing in an article for Vanity Fair, she said: “Tennis showed me the world – and it showed me what I was made of. It’s how I tested myself and how I measured my growth. And so in whatever I might choose for my next chapter, my next mountain, I’ll still be pushing. I’ll still be climbing. I’ll still be growing.”
As is the case with most sports stars and celebrities, there is no ‘official’ number available for Maria Sharapova’s net worth. However, a number of publications have attempted to estimate the total value of her fortune.
As of June 2022, Forbes estimated that Sharapova’s net worth is in the region of $220m (£182m).
In 2006, Forbes estimated that Sharapova had earned $18m in one year from her sponsorship deals with the likes of Canon, Motorola and Nike.
Sharapova is one of highest-earning women’s players in tennis history. She earned a total of $38,777,962 (£32.1m) in prize money from the sport, combined for both singles and doubles, placing her at number four on the all-time WTA top earners list.
Life Away From The Court
Following her impressive success on the tennis court, Sharapova become a serious force in the business world with a series of successful ventures, including a Nike apparel collection, a Porsche ambassadorship, and her own candy and chocolate line, Sugarpova.
According to her WTA profile page, her favourite foods are Russian and Thai cuisine and her favorite dessert is French crepes with nutella.
Some of her other interests include fashion, singing, dancing and watching movies. She has an extremely strong following on social media and in 2014 became first tennis player, male or female, to pass 15 million fans on Facebook. At the time of writing, Sharapova had 4.4m followers on Instagram.
When announcing her retirement from playing tennis in 2020, Sharapova revealed some of the things she was looking forward to. “There are a few simple things I’m really looking forward to – A sense of stillness with my family. Lingering over a morning cup of coffee. Unexpected weekend getaways. Workouts of my choice (hello, dance class!).”
Since 2018, Sharapova has been in a relationship with British businessman Alexander Gilkes. In December 2020, Sharapova and Gilkes revealed they are engaged. In July 2022, the couple welcomed their first son, Theodore.
What Have Others Said?
Justine Henin-Hardenne, speaking after losing to Sharapova in the 2006 US Open final: “She’s been a real fighter tonight. The better player won tonight.”
Serena Williams, speaking about Sharapova in 2021: “I got a chance to hang out with her at Met Gala. She’s fun. We talked, we clicked, we laughed. We talked about tennis, and it was really, really fun, and I loved it.”