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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Maria Sharapova: Gallant fighter in tennis arena

She won five Grand Slam tennis titles, 36 singles titles and an Olympic silver medal to be considered one of the best competitors in tennis despite an injury-prone career. She topped the Women Tennis Association (WTA) ranking on five occasions.

inspiring-lives Updated: Nov 26, 2019 16:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Maria Sharapova made her debut in professional tennis at the Pacific Life Open and reached the second round in which she lost to Monica Seles.
Maria Sharapova made her debut in professional tennis at the Pacific Life Open and reached the second round in which she lost to Monica Seles.(ILLUSTRATION: Mohit Suneja)
         

Born on April 19, 1987, to Yuri and Yelena in the Russian town of Nyagan, Sharapova began to develop an interest in tennis around the age of 4. In 1991, she received a racquet as a gift from Aleksandr Kafelnikov, a former world No. 1 player and friend of her father. Soon she started her professional training with well-known coach Yuri Yutkin.

In 1993, a chance meeting with Martina Navratilova at a tennis clinic in Moscow resulted in the former advising Sharapova to join the well-known IMG Academy in Florida, US which she did in 1995.

Career

In 2002, Sharapova made her debut in professional tennis at the Pacific Life Open and reached the second round in which she lost to Monica Seles. The same year she established a record by being the youngest to reach the final of the Australian Open Junior Championship’s girls’ singles at 14 years and 9 months. Same year, Sharapova was ranked 6th in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior world singles ranking. By 2003, she made it to the world’s top 50 players list and took part in major Grand Slams. She won her first WTA title at the Japan Open Tennis Championships, followed by the Bell Challenge and also earned the WTA Newcomer of the Year award.

First Grand Slam

In 2004, Sharapova reached the third round of the Australian Open, which she lost to Anastasia Myskina. Later that year, she achieved a personal first by making it to a Grand Slam quarterfinal in the French Open but lost to Paola Suarez. At Wimbledon, she overcame Serena Williams to bag her first Grand Slam title. The 17-year-old became the third youngest woman to win at Wimbledon after Lottie Dod and Martina Hingis, both of whom won at age 15.

Numero Uno

In 2005, Sharapova reached the semi-final of the Australian Open but lost to Serena Williams. She also reached the quarterfinal of the French Open during the same year. At Wimbledon, Sharapova entered the semi-final where she lost to Venus Williams. The 2005 season also witnessed her rise to the world’s number one rank that she occupied for a week. She became the first Russian woman to top the WTA rankings. She lost in the US Open semi-final to Kim Clijsters. Thanks to her overall performance that year, Sharapova rose to the top rank in September 2005, a position she maintained for six weeks.

Successes, injuries

Sharapova’s 2006 season saw her defeat Justine Henin at the US Open for her second Grand Slam.

The year 2008 began with a good note as she advanced to the final of the Australian Open, where she defeated Ana Ivanovic for her third Grand Slam title. In 2008, she regained the top rank but also sustained a shoulder injury that affected her performance. In 2011, she returned in top 10 rankings but suffered an ankle injury. In 2012, Sharapova was seeded second and defeated Sara Errani to win the French Open which became her fourth Grand Slam title. She became the 10th woman to complete a Career Grand Slam. In 2013, she again suffered a shoulder injury. At the French Open in 2014, Sharapova prevailed over Simona Halep to win her second title at the event and fifth Grand Slam overall.

INTERESTING FACTS

1. In her career from 2003 to 2015, Maria Sharapova won a singles title every year — a rare feat that had previously been achieved only by legends such as Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.

2. In 2013, Sharapova launched a candy line with candy expert Jeff Rubin. The premium candy was named as Sugarpova. A certain sum of all proceeds goes to her charity, Maria Sharapova Foundation.

3. In February 2007, Sharapova became the goodwill ambassador for the United Nations’ Development Programme which focused on Chernobyl recovery and development projects.

4. Since she turned professional, Sharapova earned around $285 million and was featured in the Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s highest-paid female athletes 11 times since the year 2001.

5. Sharapova announced that she had failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open and was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). She referred to it as “no significant fault.”

SOURCE: WTA, mariasharapova.com, Wikipedia