Maria Sharapova is a Russian professional tennis player. A United States resident since 1994, Sharapova has competed on the WTA tour since 2001. She has been ranked world No. 1 in singles by the WTA on five separate occasions, for a total of 21 weeks. She is one of ten women, and the only Russian, to hold the career Grand Slam. She is also an Olympic medalist, having earned silver for Russia in women’s singles at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Let’s find out more interesting facts about her!
1. Maria Sharapova was born on April 19, 1987, in Nyagan, Russian SFSR.
2. Her parents, Yuri and Yelena, are from Gomel, Belarussian SSR.
3. Concerned about the regional effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, they left their homeland shortly before Maria was born.
4. In 1989, when Sharapova was two, the family moved to Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia.
5. There her father Yuri befriended Aleksandr Kafelnikov, whose son Yevgeny would go on to win two Grand Slam singles titles and become Russia’s first world No. 1 ranked tennis player.
6. Aleksandr gave Sharapova her first tennis racquet in 1991 when she was four, whereupon she began practicing regularly with her father at a local park.
7. Maria took her first tennis lessons with veteran Russian coach Yuri Yutkin, who was instantly impressed when he saw her play, noting her “exceptional hand-eye coordination”.
8. In 1993, at the age of six, Sharapova attended a tennis clinic in Moscow run by Martina Navratilova, who recommended professional training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, which had previously trained players such as Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, and Anna Kournikova.
9. With money tight, Yuri Sharapov borrowed the sum that would enable him and his daughter, neither of whom could speak English, to travel to the United States of America, which they finally did in 1994. Visa restrictions prevented Sharapova’s mother from joining them for two years.
10. Arriving in Florida with savings of US$700, Sharapova’s father took various low-paying jobs, including dishwashing, to fund her lessons until she was old enough to be admitted to the academy.
11. Before she entered the IMG business, she trained with Rick Macci, in the Rick Macci Tennis Academy. She then was offered a deal from IMG which forced her to change academies.
12. Originally, she did train with Rick Macci, but after the deal with IMG, she could not see Rick Macci anymore.
13. 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.
14. Sharapova first hit the tennis scene in November 2000, when she won the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships in the girls’ 16 division at the age of just 13.
15. She was then given a special distinction, the Rising Star Award, which is awarded only to players of exceptional promise.
16. Sharapova made her professional debut in 2001 on her 14th birthday on April 19, and played her first WTA tournament at the Pacific Life Open in 2002, winning a match before losing to Monica Seles.
17. Due to restrictions on how many professional events she could play, Sharapova went to hone her game in junior tournaments, where she reached the finals of the girls’ singles events at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2002.
18. She was the youngest girl ever to reach the final of the Australian Open junior championship at 14 years and 9 months.
19. Sharapova reached No. 6 in the ITF junior world singles ranking on October 21, 2002. In all, she won three junior singles tournaments and was runner-up at five, including two junior Grand Slam events. Her win-loss record in junior competition was 47–9.
20. Sharapova became the world No. 1 for the first time on August 22, 2005, at the age of 18, and last held the ranking for the fifth time for four weeks from June 11, 2012, to July 8, 2012.
21. Her 35 singles titles and five Grand Slam titles—two at the French Open and one each at the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open—rank third among active players, behind Serena and Venus Williams. She won the year-ending WTA Finals in her debut in 2004. She has also won three doubles titles.
22. Despite an injury-prone career, Sharapova has achieved a rare level of longevity in the women’s game. She has won at least one singles title a year from 2003 until 2015, a streak only bested by Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, and Chris Evert. Several tennis pundits and former players have called Sharapova one of tennis’s best competitors, with John McEnroe calling her one of the best the sport has ever seen.
23. Sharapova has been featured in a number of modeling assignments, including a feature in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She appeared in many advertisements, including those for Nike, Prince, and Canon, being the face of several fashion houses, most notably Cole Haan.
24. Since February 2007, she has been a United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador, concerned specifically with the Chernobyl Recovery and Development Programme. In June 2011, she was named one of the “30 Legends of Women’s Tennis: Past, Present and Future” by Time and in March 2012 was named one of the “100 Greatest of All Time” by Tennis Channel.
25. According to Forbes, she has been named highest paid female athlete in the world for 11 consecutive years and earned US$285 million including prize money since she turned pro in 2001.
26. In March 2016, Sharapova revealed she had failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open, admitting to testing positive for meldonium, a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) at the start of 2016.
27. On June 8, 2016, she was suspended from playing tennis for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). On October 4 2016, the suspension was reduced to 15 months.
28. Sharapova dated Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine for a short time in 2005 after they met at her 18th birthday party.
29. In 2008, she briefly dated American television producer Charlie Ebersol.
30. In 2011, she was engaged to Slovenian professional basketball player Sasha Vujačić. The two had been dating since 2009. On August 31, 2012, Sharapova confirmed that the pair had ended the engagement and separated during early 2012.
31. Later that year, she began dating Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov. The two confirmed their relationship after the 2013 Madrid Open. However, Sharapova and Dimitrov ended their relationship in July 2015.
32. Sharapova has lived in the United States since moving there at the age of seven. Besides a home in Bradenton, Florida, she also has a residence in Manhattan Beach, California.
33. From 2005 to 2011, Sharapova was named to the Forbes Celebrity 100, which attempts to compile the top 100 most powerful celebrities of that year.
34. Sharapova has made varying remarks on how long she intends to maintain her tennis career.
35. Following the retirement of 25-year-old Justine Henin in 2008, Sharapova said, “If I [were] 25, and I’d won so many Grand Slams, I’d quit too.”
36. 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.
37. However, in an interview before her 2012 Australian Open semifinal, Sharapova changed her stance, saying she intended to continue playing tennis for as long as she enjoyed playing the game.
38. The Maria Sharapova Foundation is committed to helping children around the world achieve their dreams.
39. Sharapova has donated $100,000 to Chernobyl-related projects.
40. In partnership with the UNDP, she launched a $210,000 scholarship program for students from Chernobyl-affected areas of Belarus that will award five-year scholarships to 12 students at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts and the Belarusian State University.
41. 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.
42. In 2005, she donated around US$50,000 to those affected by the crisis.
43. 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 since she had to travel back to the US because of her shoulder injury.
44. She fulfilled the trip in late June/early July 2010. Sharapova has helped to promote the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and was the first torch bearer in the torch-lighting ceremony during the opening festivities.
45. In addition, with Angela Haynes, Maria Kirilenko, Nicole Vaidišová, Rennae Stubbs, Governor Jeb Bush, and Jennifer Capriati, Sharapova participated in an exhibition in Tampa in December 2004, raising money for the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund.
46. In July 2008, Sharapova sent a message on DVD to the memorial service of cancer victim Emily Bailes, who had performed the coin toss ahead of the 2004 Wimbledon final that Sharapova had gone on to win.
47. She enjoys Russian and Thai food.
48. When she can she enjoys drinks like Orangina, Virgin Strawberry Daiquiris.
49. Revealed that her dream mixed tennis doubles partners would be Prince William, Vladimir Putin and soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.
50. Was voted FHM’s 7th most eligible bachelorette, finishing higher than Paris Hilton and Keira Knightley.
51. Maria is a model off-court and was featured in number of modeling campaigns.
52. Signed endorsements deals with Porshe, Nike, Tiffany & Co.
53. Launched a successful candy line named Sugarpova.
54. Her favorite color is yellow and pink.