WTA Players

Maria Sharapova

RU Russia

#2

Single Ranking
Date: 
Sunday, April 19, 1987
Birthplace: 
Nyagan, Siberia, Russia
Residence: 
Bradenton, Florida, USA
Height: 
6' 2" (1.88 m)
Weight: 
130 lbs. (59 kg)
Plays: 
Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Turned pro: 
2001

Maria Yuryevna Sharapova (born April 19, 1987) is a Russian professional tennis player who is a former World No. 1. As of May 12, 2008, she is the second-ranked female player in the world and the top ranked Russian female player. At the end of 2006, she was the world's highest-paid female athlete.

Sharapova has won three Grand Slam singles titles. In 2004, she beat Serena Williams to take the Wimbledon title at the age of 17. Two years later, she defeated Justine Henin in the final of the 2006 U.S. Open. At the 2008 Australian Open, she beat Ana Ivanovi? in the final. Sharapova has been ranked in the top 10 since winning Wimbledon, the longest of any current female tennis player.

Personal life

The Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 compelled Sharapova's parents, Yuri and Yelena, ethnic Russians, to move from Gomel, Belarus, to the town of Nyagan in Siberia, Russia to live with Yelena's father. Maria was born the following year.

Sharapova started playing tennis at the age of four. Her father brought her to the United States when she was seven years old, to attend the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Her mother, Yelena, could not come with them because of visa restrictions, and followed two years later. Sharapova has lived in the United States since then, but retains her Russian citizenship. She has a home in Manhattan Beach, California and in early 2008, purchased a penthouse apartment in Netanya, Israel.

Playing style

Sharapova has been labeled as a power baseliner by tennis critics and fans. She is noted for having an excellent double-handed backhand and serves, particularly for the power and placement of these shots. She is also noted for having a good forehand. Likewise, critics claim that for her height, Sharapova has decent agility on-court. Being an offensive player, Sharapova is usually able to overpower her opponents or keep them on the run with sharp angles from the baseline. Because of this aggressive play, she excels on the fast-playing grass and hard courts, but is not as dangerous on clay. This is because she is not among the strongest of defensive players. She can lose precision on her groundstrokes when she is put on the run herself, a weakness that the best all-around players will exploit. Sharapova also is not a traditional volleyer, instead using a powerful "swinging" volley for net approaches. Sharapova usually serves for placement, but uses enough power on her first and second serve that attacking that stroke is very difficult for her opponents. She has been trying to develop her "all-power" game, while also adding in slice, drop shots and drop volleys.

Because of shoulder injuries, Sharapova adopted a new service action with a shorter backswing after Wimbledon 2007. Her first and second serve became less effective during the majority of the 2007 season. Previously, she had an elongated backswing to generate power on her serve. However, as a trade-off, the swing also placed incredible strain on her shoulder, leading to Sharapova's shoulder injury at the beginning of the 2007 season. With her shoulder injury apparently healed, Sharapova has since returned to her elongated service motion, and her serve has been more effective in 2008.

Sharapova is ambidextrous and played left-handed until she was ten years old, before deciding to play right-handed. Although she almost always employs a right-handed forehand and double-handed backhand, she has one of the most accurate double-handed backhand shots and is known to occasionally hit left-handed shots as a result of her early left-handed training. She has also been criticised for her loud on-court "grunting."

Sharapova has won every Grand Slam singles title except the French Open. She believes that winning the French Open will be a big challenge and has described her movement on clay as like a "cow on ice."

Career
2001-2003

Sharapova turned professional in 2001, although she played a total of just two WTA tournaments in 2001 and 2002 plus six challenger events.

She started playing tour events full-time in 2003. She won three qualifying matches at both the Australian Open and the French Open to reach the main draw, although she lost in the first round in both events. She received a wild card into the main draw at Wimbledon, losing in the fourth round to compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova 6–1, 2–6, 7–5 after defeating the 21st seed and the 11th seed in the second and third rounds, respectively. Sharapova then lost in the second round of the U.S. Open to Emilie Loit. In October, Sharapova won her first title at the Tier III tournament in Tokyo and then won her second Tier III tournament four weeks later in Quebec City. She finished the year at World No. 32 and was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year.

2004

Sharapova started the year by reaching the third round of the Australian Open, where she lost to seventh-seeded Anastasia Myskina 6–4, 1–6, 6–2. The week after the Australian Open, Sharapova lost in the second round of the Tier I Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo to Daniela Hantuchova. She then returned to the United States for three hard court tournaments, reaching the semifinals in Memphis, the fourth round at the Tier I Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, and the fourth round of the Tier I Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida.

During the spring clay court season leading up to the French Open, Sharapova lost in the third round at both Berlin and Rome, which were both Tier I events. At the French Open, Sharapova reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam singles tournament for the first time in her career, losing to Paola Suárez 6–1, 6–3.

The tour then switched to grass courts in the lead up to Wimbledon. In Birmingham, Sharapova defeated Tatiana Golovin to win the title.

The 17-year-old Sharapova went into Wimbledon as the thirteenth seed. She reached her second consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal, where she defeated Ai Sugiyama 5–7, 7–5, 6–1, and then upset fifth-seeded and former World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport in the semifinals 2–6, 7–6, 6–1. She then faced two-time defending champion Serena Williams in the final, with Williams the heavy favorite. Sharapova, however, caused one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history by beating Williams 6–1, 6–4, to become the third-youngest Wimbledon women's champion (after Lottie Dod and Martina Hingis) and second-youngest in the open era. She was the first Russian to win the tournament and was, at the time, the lowest seed to win the women's event. (Venus Williams was seeded lower when she won the tournament subsequently in 2005 and 2007.)

During the North American summer hard court season leading up to the U.S. Open, Sharapova played three tournaments. She lost to Myskina in the quarterfinals of the Tier I tournament in San Diego. She lost to Vera Zvonareva in the third round of the Tier I tournament in Montreal. And she lost in the second round of the tournament in New Haven.

At the U.S. Open, Sharapova lost to French player and two-time Grand Slam champion Mary Pierce in the third round 4–6, 6–2, 6–3. During the tournament, Sharapova and several other Russian women tennis players wore a black ribbon in observance of the tragedy after the Beslan school hostage crisis, which took place only a few days before.[9]

Sharapova then played three tournaments in Asia. She lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals of the China Open in Beijing. During the next two weeks, Sharapova won the Tier IV tournament in Seoul, South Korea and successfully defended her Tokyo title.

Before returning to the United States, Sharapova reached her first Tier I final in Zurich, losing to Alicia Molik. At the Tier II tournament in Philadelphia, Sharapova reached the semifinals before defaulting her match to Amelie Mauresmo. Sharapova then ended the year by winning the WTA Tour Championships. She defeated an injured Serena Williams in the final after being down 4–0 in the final set. After losing to Sharapova in a semifinal of this event, Myskina said: "He [Sharapova's father] was just yelling and screaming instructions to her and I thought he just might jump right on the court at one point in the match."

Sharapova finished 2004 ranked World No. 4 and was the second-ranked Russian (behind Myskina). She won five titles during the year, trailing only Davenport's seven and equaling Justine Henin's total. Sharapova also topped the prize winnings list for the year.

2005

Sharapova started the year by reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open, where she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams 2–6, 7–5, 8–6, despite holding three match points.

In February, Sharapova won her first Tier I event in Tokyo. Three weeks later, she won the tournament in Doha. To complete the spring hard court season, Sharapova reached the semifinals of the Tier I Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California and the final of the Tier I Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Sharapova participated in two of the clay court tune-ups for the French Open. She lost in the quarterfinals of the Qatar Telecom German Open in Berlin to Justine Henin and the semifinals of the Italian Open in Rome to Patty Schnyder. At the French Open, Sharapova lost in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year, falling to Henin, the eventual champion.

On grass, Sharapova successfully defended her Birmingham title, defeating Jelena Jankovi? in the final to extend her winning streak on grass to 19 matches. She then was unsuccessful in defending her Wimbledon title. She reached the semifinals without losing a set, where she lost to Venus Williams, the eventual champion.

Lindsay Davenport injured her back in the Wimbledon final, preventing her from defending the ranking points she obtained during the U.S. hard-court season of 2004. Sharapova had fewer points to defend and therefore rose to the World No. 1 ranking on August 22, 2005. She was the first Russian woman to hold the position. Her reign lasted only one week, however, as Davenport re-ascended to the top ranking after winning the title in New Haven.

At the U.S. Open, Sharapova lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Kim Clijsters. Sharapova lost to the eventual champion in all four Grand Slam events of 2005. Nevertheless, the points she accumulated at the U.S. Open meant that she once again leapfrogged Davenport to take the World No. 1 ranking on September 12, 2005. She kept that ranking for six weeks before relinquishing it again to Davenport following the Zurich Open.

Sharapova failed to defend her title at the season-ending WTA Tour Championships, losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Amélie Mauresmo.

Sharapova finished the year ranked World No. 4 again and as the top-ranked Russian for the first time. She won three titles during the year and was the only player in 2005 to reach three Grand Slam semifinals.

2006

At the Australian Open, Sharapova lost in the semifinals to Justine Henin 4–6, 6–1, 6–4, the only match of the year that Sharapova lost after winning the first set.

Sharapova claimed her first title of 2006 and eleventh of her career at the Tier I Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California. She defeated fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva in the final 6–1, 6–2.

Sharapova then lost in the final of the Tier I Sony Ericsson Open to Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Sharapova participated at the French Open without having played any of the clay court tune-ups because of injury. After saving three match points in the first round against Mashona Washington, Sharapova was eliminated in the fourth round by Dinara Safina 7–5, 2–6, 7–5, after Sharapova led 5–1 in the third set. Sharapova lost 18 of the match's last 21 points.

Sharapova then started the grass court season but failed to add a third successive Birmingham title to her collection, losing in the semifinals to American Jamea Jackson. At Wimbledon, Sharapova was defeated in the semifinals for the second consecutive year, losing to eventual winner and World No. 1 Amélie Mauresmo 6–3, 3–6, 6–2.

Sharapova claimed her second title of 2006 at the Tier I Acura Classic in San Diego, defeating top-seeded Kim Clijsters 7–5, 7–5. This was Sharapova's first victory over Clijsters in five meetings. She then played in Los Angeles, losing to Dementieva in the semifinals. This was Sharapova's only summer hardcourt loss of the year.

Sharapova was the third-seed at the U.S. Open. She defeated Tatiana Golovin 7–6, 7–6 in the quarterfinals before defeating Mauresmo in a semifinal 6–0, 4–6, 6–0. Sharapova then prevailed over second-ranked Henin in the final 6–4, 6–4 to win her second Grand Slam singles title, having dropped just one set en route and joining the list of eight players who had beaten the top two players in the world to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Sharapova then won two tournaments in consecutive weeks. At the Tier I Zurich Open, Sharapova defeated Daniela Hantuchová in the final. At the Generali Ladies Linz, Sharapova beat fellow Russian and defending champion Nadia Petrova to take her fifth title of 2006 and the 15th title of her career.

Until her loss in the semifinals of the WTA Tour Championships to Henin, Sharapova had won 19 consecutive matches. She finished the year at World No. 2 and, for the second year, as the top Russian player. During the year, she compiled a 59-9 record and won five titles (second only to Henin's six), including three Tier I titles, more than any other player.

2007

Sharapova reached the final of the JB Group Classic, an exhibition tournament in Hong Kong, where she was defeated by Kim Clijsters 6–3, 7–6(8).

Sharapova was the top seed at the Australian Open because of World No. 1 Justine Henin's withdrawal. Sharapova defeated the 62nd-ranked Camille Pin in the first round 6–3, 4–6, 9–7 on her fourth match point in air temperatures that exceeded 40 °C (104 °F) and on-court temperatures that exceeded 50 °C (122 °F). In the semifinals, Sharapova defeated fourth-seeded Clijsters to reach her first Australian Open final and gain the opportunity to win the only Grand Slam singles title that a Russian woman had not yet won. However, Serena Williams, ranked World No. 81, overpowered Sharapova 6–1, 6–2 in the final. Reaching the final allowed Sharapova to recapture the World No. 1 ranking.

Partly due to hamstring and shoulder injuries that reduced the effectiveness of her serve, Sharapova did not win any of her next three tournaments. At the Tier I Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, Sharapova retired from her semifinal match with Ana Ivanovi?. At the Tier I Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, Sharapova lost to Vera Zvonareva in the fourth round 4–6, 7–5, 6–1 after Sharapova lead 5–4 in the second set. This loss resulted in her losing the World No. 1 ranking. In the fourth round of the Tier I Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, Sharapova lost to Serena Williams for the second consecutive time 6–1, 6–1. In the third round of that tournament, Sharapova had beaten Venus Williams 2–6, 6–2, 7–5.

Injuries forced Sharapova to miss most the clay court season for the second consecutive year. Her only tune-up for the French Open was the Istanbul Cup, where she lost to Frenchwoman Aravane Rezaï in the semifinals 6–2, 6–4. She then reached the semifinals of the French Open for the first time in her career (saving a match point against Patty Schnyder in the fourth round), but fell to Ivanovi? 6–2, 6–1.

On grass at the DFS Classic in Birmingham, United Kingdom, Sharapova lost in the final to second seeded Jelena Jankovi? 4–6, 6–3, 7–5. At Wimbledon, Sharapova lost to Venus Williams in the fourth round 6–1, 6–3.

Sharapova's first summer hardcourt tournament was the Tier I Acura Classic in San Diego, California, where she was the defending champion. She progressed to the final relatively easily, showing few of the serving problems that had dogged her all year. In the final, she defeated eleventh-seeded Schnyder 6–2, 3–6, 6–0, claiming her first title of the year, fifth Tier I title of her career, and the 16th singles title of her career.

At the East West Bank Classic in Los Angeles, a shin injury caused Sharapova to withdraw from her semifinal match with fellow Russian Nadia Petrova shortly before the match started. Nevertheless, she clinched the US Open Series for the first time.

Seeded second at the 2007 U.S. Open, Sharapova won her first two matches with the loss of only two games but then lost her third round match to 18-year-old Pole Agnieszka Radwa?ska 6–4, 1–6, 6–2, partly due to poor serving and a host of unforced errors. It was Sharapova's earliest exit at a Grand Slam singles tournament since she lost in the same round at the 2004 U.S. Open.

Sharapova did not play again until the Tier I Kremlin Cup in Moscow in October, where she lost to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the second round, 7–6(9), 6–2 (after a first-round bye). The recurring shoulder problem then forced Sharapova to withdraw from events in Zurich and Linz, at both of which she was the defending champion.

Sharapova qualified for the WTA Tour Championships only because Venus Williams withdrew from the tournament. Playing only her second match in two months, Sharapova beat World No. 9 Daniela Hantuchová 6–4, 7–5 in her first round-robin match, before coming from a set down to defeat World No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova 5–7, 6–2, 6–2 to ensure a place in the semifinals. In her final round robin match, Sharapova defeated Ivanovi? 6–1, 6–2 in just over an hour. As the winner of the Red Group, Sharapova then played the runner-up of the Yellow Group, Anna Chakvetadze, in the semifinals. Sharapova won that match 6–2, 6–2. In the final, Sharapova lost to World No. 1 Henin 5–7, 7–5, 6–3 in a match that lasted 3 hours and 24 minutes. This was the 12th longest tour match during the open era.

Sharapova ended the year as World No. 5 on the official WTA tour rankings, the fourth consecutive year that she finished in the top five. However, for the first time since 2004, she did not finish the year as the top ranked Russian. Kuznetsova, who finished World No. 2, held that honor. Sharapova also won just one title (at San Diego), the first time she had failed to win at least two titles since 2002 (when she played just three WTA matches).

2008

After beating Anna Chakvetadze in an exhibition match in Singapore, Sharapova reached the final of the JB Group Classic exhibition tournament in Hong Kong, where she lost to Venus Williams in the final 6–4, 6–3.

Sharapova was the fifth seed at the Australian Open, her lowest seeding at a Grand Slam singles tournament since the 2004 U.S. Open.[citation needed] On the way to the quarterfinals, Sharapova defeated Lindsay Davenport in the second round[10] and Elena Dementieva in the fourth round. In the quarterfinals, Sharapova defeated World No. 1 Justine Henin 6–4, 6–0,[11] snapping Henin's 32-match winning streak. Sharapova then reached her second consecutive Australian Open final when she defeated an injured Jelena Jankovic 6–3, 6–1. She defeated Ana Ivanovi? 7–5, 6–3 in the final, dropping only 10 service points during the match. Sharapova now needs just the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam in singles.

After the Australian Open, Sharapova participated for the first time in Fed Cup. In the quarterfinal tie against Israel, Sharapova helped Russia reach the semifinals by winning her singles matches against Tzipora Obziler and Shahar Pe'er.

At the Qatar Total Open in Doha, Sharapova won the singles title by defeating Vera Zvonareva in a three-set final. This was Sharapova's second title of the year, sixth career Tier I singles title, 18th career singles title, and 14th consecutive match win. She has won the Doha singles title both years she has played the event, the first coming in 2005.

At the Tier I Pacific Life Open, Sharapova defeated the defending champion, Daniela Hantuchová, in the quarterfinals 7–6(2), 6–1 before losing in the semifinals to Svetlana Kuznetsova 6–3, 5–7, 6–2. This was Sharapova's first loss of the year after 18 wins. Sharapova then withdrew from the Tier I Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida because of a shoulder injury.

At the Tier II Bausch & Lomb Championships in Amelia Island, Florida, Sharapova was the top seeded player. She defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues in the third round 7–6(3), 5–7, 7–6(1) in 3 hours and 27 minutes. She then defeated 2008 Australian Open women's doubles champion Alona Bondarenko in the quarterfinals 6–7(9), 6–3, 6–2 in 2 hours and 43 minutes. In the semifinals, Sharapova received a walkover to the final after her opponent, Lindsay Davenport, withdrew due to illness. Sharapova then defeated Dominika Cibulkova in her first career clay court final. Immediately after this win, her ranking rose to World No. 4.

At the Tier I Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, Sharapova lost to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 after Sharapova had a set point at 5-3 in the first set and served for the set at 5-4. Sharapova claimed the second set but then lost the first five games of the final set. Her ranking rose to World No. 3 as a result of this tournament.

Awards

2003

  • Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Newcomer of the Year

2004

  • WTA Player of the Year
  • WTA Most Improved Player of the Year

2005

  • ESPY Best Female Tennis Player
  • Named the country's best female player for the year by Russia's tennis federation
  • Master of Sports of Russia
  • Prix de Citron Roland Garros

2006

  • Named the country's best female player for the year by Russia's tennis federation
  • Whirlpool 6th Sense Player of the Year

2007

  • ESPY Best Female Tennis Player
  • ESPY Best International Female Athlete
  • ESPN Hottest Female Athlete

2008

  • Named the January 2008 female Athlete of the Month by the United States Sports Academy for her performance at the Australian Open

Endorsements

Sharapova's endorsements have earned her considerably more than she has won in tournament play. In June 2005, Forbes magazine listed her as the highest-paid female athlete in the world, with annual earnings of over US$18 million. (CBS, the American television network, reported in August 2006 that the figure is over US$20 million.) The majority is made from endorsements and sponsorships. In a later interview, she said, "You know, one of the greatest things about being an athlete and, you know, making money is realizing that you can help, you know, help the world, and especially children, who I absolutely love working with."

In 2005 during a photo shoot for Canon, a lewd photo was taken of Sharapova without her knowledge by Japanese advertising agency Dentsu. The company currently has a lawsuit related to this incident.

Sharapova is visible in and outside of the court for her looks. Sharapova posed in a six-page bikini photoshoot spread in the 2006 issue of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, annual magazine that debuted on Valentine's Day, along with 25 scantily-clad supermodels. Sharapova joined the ranks of other athletes who have previously appeared in the publication. In April 2005, Sharapova was listed by People Magazine as among the 50 most beautiful celebrities in the world.

In 2006, Maxim magazine named Sharapova the hottest athlete in the world for the fourth consecutive year.

On January 14, 2008, Sharapova and Sony Ericsson signed a four-year sponsorship agreement, and Canon U.S.A., Inc., announced an extension of its marketing relationship with Sharapova through 2010.

In a poll run by Britain's FHM magazine, Sharapova was voted the seventh most eligible bachelorette. Voting took into consideration both "wealth and looks."

Product endorsement and equipment

Sharapova's first racquet (before she entered the professional circuit) was given to her by family friend Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Sharapova used the Prince Tour Diablo for part of 2003 and then used several different Prince racquets until the U.S. Open. She gave the racquet she used in the 2004 Wimbledon final to Regis Philbin when taping Live with Regis and Kelly. Sharapova began using the Prince Shark MP at that tournament and had a major part in the production of the Shark racquet. She then switched to the Prince O3 White racquet in January 2006.[24]

She endorses Nike accessories, apparel, and footwear. She is well known for designing her tennis outfits, her most memorable being her 2006 nighttime US Open dress, inspired by Audrey Hepburn's look from Breakfast at Tiffany's as well as a red dress sequined with over 600 Swarovski crystals the following year.

Current Sponsors:

  • Canon
  • Colgate
  • Gatorade
  • Land Rover
  • Nike, Inc.
  • Parlux Fragrances
  • Prince Sports - signed a lifetime endorsement in 2007.
  • Samantha Thavasa
  • Sony Ericsson
  • Tag Heuer
  • Tropicana

Activism

On February 14, 2007, Sharapova was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and donated US$100,000 to UNDP Chernobyl-recovery projects. She is planning on traveling back to the area after Wimbledon in 2008.

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