Maria Sharapova

Maria Yuryevna Sharapova (born April 19, 1987) is a Russian professional tennis player and a former world no. 1. A US resident since 1994, Sharapova has won 24 WTA singles titles, including three Grand Slam singles titles at the 2004 Wimbledon, 2006 US Open and 2008 Australian Open. She has also won the year-end WTA Tour Championships in 2004.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has ranked Sharapova world no. 1 in singles on four separate occasions. She became the world no. 1 for the first time on August 22, 2005, and last regained this ranking for the fourth time on May 19, 2008. As of November, 2011 Sharapova is ranked world no. 4. She has been in five Grand Slam finals with the final record 3–2.

Sharapova made her professional breakthrough in 2004 when, at age 17, she defeated two-time defending champion and top seed Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final for her first Grand Slam singles title. She entered the top 10 of the WTA Rankings with this win. Despite not winning a major in 2005, Sharapova briefly held the no. 1 ranking, and reached three Grand Slam semifinals, losing to the eventual champion each time. She won her second major at the 2006 US Open defeating then-world no. 1 Amélie Mauresmo in the semifinals and world no. 2 Justine Henin in the final. Sharapova's 2007 season was plagued with a chronic shoulder injury and saw her ranking fall out of the top 5 for the first time in two years. She ultimately won her third Grand Slam at the 2008 Australian Open, defeating Henin in the quarterfinals and Ana Ivanović in the final. After reclaiming the no. 1 ranking in May 2008, Sharapova's shoulder problems re-surfaced, ultimately requiring surgery in October and forcing her out of the game for nearly 10 months. Sharapova returned in May 2009 and was ranked no. 126 in the world due to her extensive lay-off. Since her comeback, Sharapova has won five singles titles (bringing her career total to 24) and improved her ranking to the world no. 2.

Sharapova's public profile extends beyond tennis, as she has been featured in a number of modeling assignments, including a feature in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She has been featured in many advertisements, including those for Nike, Prince and Canon, and is the face of several fashion houses, most notably Cole Haan. Sharapova was the most searched-for athlete on Yahoo! in both 2005 and 2008. 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.

Early life
Gomel, Belarus is the root of Sharapova's parents Yury and Yelena. They left their homeland after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 affected the region, right before Sharapova was born. 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, whereupon she began practicing regularly with her father at a local park. She took her first tennis lessons with veteran Russian coach Yuri Yutkin, who was instantly impressed when he first saw her play, 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 United States, 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 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.

Personal life
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. Sharapova is also a stamp collector and has a "huge collection" compiled since she was a child.

Sharapova is engaged to Slovenian professional basketball player Sasha Vujačić (Saša Vujačič, Саша Вујачић), who plays for the Anadolu Efes S.K.. The two have been dating since 2009.

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 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.

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.

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 to promote the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

In 2011, Sharapova was named in Forbes Celebrity 100. This lists her as one of the top 100 most powerful celebrities of the year.

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.

Sexy Female Athletes Maria Sharapova Picture Gallery

Born: April 19, 1987 (age 24), Nyagan, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Country: Russia
Residence: Bradenton, Florida, USA
Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Turned pro: April 19, 2001
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand) (Ambidextrous)
Career prize money: $16,643,327

      



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