Maria Yuryevna Sharapova (Russian: Мари́я Ю́рьевна Шара́пова; IPA: [mɐˈrʲijə ˈjʉrʲjɪvnə ʂɐˈrapəvə] ; born 19 April 1987) is a Russian professional tennis player, who is ranked world No. 3 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). 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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
Maria Sharapova was born on 19 April 1987 in Nyagan, Russian SFSR. Her parents, Yuri and Yelena, are from Gomel, Belarussian SSR. Concerned about the regional effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, they left their homeland shortly before Sharapova was born.
Introduction to tennis
In 1989, when Sharapova was two, the family moved to Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia. 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. 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. 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”.
Start of professional training
In 1993, at the age of six, Sharapova attended a tennis clinic in Moscow run by Martina Navratilova, who recommended professional training at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida, which had previously trained players such as Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, and Anna Kournikova. 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. 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. 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. Originally, she did train with Rick Macci, but after the deal with IMG, she could not see Rick Macci anymore. 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.
Sugarpova is a candy line created by Maria Sharapova and candy veteran Jeff Rubin, founder of international retailer IT’SUGAR. According to the Sugarpova website, “Sugarpova is a premium candy line that reflects the fun, fashionable, sweet side of international tennis sensation Maria Sharapova.” The line currently consists of 12 different flavors that range from Flirty, to Smitten Sour, to Splashy. A portion of all proceeds goes to the Maria Sharapova Foundation, Sharapova’s charity. Sugarpova was launched worldwide in 2013 through IT’SUGAR and Selfridges stores.
According to her agent, Sharapova seriously considered changing her last name to “Sugarpova” for the 2013 US Open, but ultimately decided against it. However, some reports suggest that she made an application to a Florida Court to that effect.
On February 2016, Sugarpova announced that it had partnered with Polish company Baron Chocolatier to make Sugarpova Premium Chocolates.They are scheduled to arrive in the market in May before the 2016 French Open and will will feature chocolate bars in milk chocolate, dark chocolate, dark chocolate with toasted coconut, and milk chocolate with strawberry.
Sugarpova also plans to extend its range to lifestyle products.