BIOGRAPHY FOR MARIA SHARAPOVA
Maria Yuryevna Sharapova (Russian: Мари́я Ю́рьевна Шара́пова (help·info), Mariya Yur’evna Shara'pova [pronounced Ma-REE-ya YU-rye-vna Sha-RA-po-va]; born 19 Apr. 1987 (24 years ago)) is a former World No. 1 Russian professional tennis player and three time Grand Slam singles champion. As of 31 Aug. 2009 (2 years ago), she is ranked World No. 31.
When Sharapova was seven, she and her father moved from their life of poverty in Russia to the United States, to enroll in the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. After rising rapidly through the junior and professional ranks in the years that followed, Sharapova won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2004 (7 years ago) at the age of 17. In the two years that followed, Sharapova won eight titles on the WTA Tour and had two brief stints as the World No. 1. However, she lost all five Grand Slam semifinals she played during this period. She ultimately won her second Grand Slam title at the 2006 (5 years ago) US Open.
In 2007 (4 years ago), a right shoulder injury forced Sharapova to withdraw from numerous tournaments; this was partially responsible for her dropping out of the top five on the WTA world rankings for the first time in three years. Although she won her third Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in early 2008 (3 years ago) and returned to the World No. 1 position later in the year, her shoulder necessitated surgery in Oct. 2008 (3 years ago). Sharapova was away from the sport for ten months until May 2009 (2 years ago), which caused her ranking to drop out of the top 100. Since returning, Sharapova's ranking has recovered to within the top 30.
Sharapova's public profile extends beyond tennis. She has been featured in a number of modeling assignments, including a feature in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Sharapova was the most searched-for athlete on Yahoo! in both 2005 (6 years ago) and 2008 (3 years ago). In Jul. 2008 (3 years ago), as a result of her success both on and off court, she was the world's highest-paid female athlete, earning US$26 million. Since Feb. 2007 (4 years ago), she has been a United Nations Development Project Goodwill Ambassador, concerned specifically with efforts in Chernobyl to recover from the 1986 (25 years ago) nuclear disaster.
Sharapova was born in 1987 (24 years ago) to Yuri and Elena, ethnic Russians, in the town of Nyagan' in Siberia, Russia. Her parents moved from Gomel, Belarus after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 (25 years ago) affected the region. When Sharapova was two, the family moved to Sochi where her father befriended Aleksandr Kafelnikov, whose son Yevgeny would go on to become a Grand Slam champion. Aleksandr gave Sharapova her first tennis racket at the age of four, whereupon she began practicing regularly with her father in a local park.
At the age of six, 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. Sharapova and her father, neither of whom could speak English, moved to Florida in 1994 (17 years ago). Visa restrictions prevented Sharapova's mother from joining them for two years. Sharapova's father took various low-paying jobs, including dish washing, to fund her lessons before she was admitted to the academy. In 1995 (16 years ago), she was signed by IMG and finally enrolled in the academy.
Sharapova is an aggressive baseliner, with power, depth, and angles on her forehand and backhand. Instead of using a traditional volley or overhead smash, she often prefers to hit a powerful "swinging" volley when approaching the net or attacking lobs. Sharapova is thought to have good speed around the court, especially considering her height. At the beginning of 2008 (3 years ago), some observers noted that Sharapova had developed her game, showing improved movement and footwork and the addition of a drop shot and sliced backhand to her repertoire of shots. Sharapova is known for on-court "grunting", which reached a recorded 101 decibels during a match at Wimbledon in 2005 (6 years ago). Monica Seles suggested that grunting is involuntary and a part of tennis. When questioned by the media about her grunting, Sharapova urged the media to "just watch the match."
Towards the beginning of her career, Sharapova's first and second serves were regarded as powerful. Since the beginning of 2007 (4 years ago), however, problems with her shoulder have reduced the effectiveness of her serve. She has regularly gone through spells where she has routinely produced high numbers of double faults in many of her matches. Two-time US Open singles champion Tracy Austin believes that Sharapova often loses confidence in the rest of her game when she experiences problems with her serve and consequently produces more unforced errors and generally plays more tentatively.
Because she predicates her game on power, Sharapova's preferred surfaces are the fast-playing hard and grass courts, and she is not as well-suited to the slower clay courts. Sharapova has admitted that she is not as comfortable with her movement on clay compared with other court surfaces and once described herself as like a "cow on ice" after a match on clay. Her limitations on this surface are reflected in her career results. The French Open is the only Grand Slam singles title she has not yet won, though she reached the semifinals there in 2007 (4 years ago). She won her first Women's Tennis Association tour title on clay during her eighth year as a touring professional, after previously winning 18 titles on other surfaces.
2001–03: Professional debut
Sharapova turned professional in 2001 (10 years ago) but played just one tournament that year. The following year, the 14 year-old Sharapova became the youngest female to reach the final of the junior Australian Open, before reaching the final of the junior Wimbledon Championships later in the year. She also won three titles on the International Tennis Federation Circuit and played her first matches on the main Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour, winning a match at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, a Tier I event, before losing to former World No. 1 Monica Seles in the second round.
Sharapova started playing WTA Tour events full-time in 2003 (8 years ago). She won through the qualifying rounds to reach the main draw of Grand Slams for the first time at the Australian Open and the French Open, but lost in the first round of both. Her breakthrough came on grass; at the DFS Classic in Birmingham, United Kingdom, Sharapova defeated World No. 15 Elena Dementieva in the quarterfinals, a result which secured Sharapova both her first WTA Tour semifinal and her first win over a player ranked inside the top 20. She then lost to Shinobu Asagoe in the semifinals. As a wildcard at Wimbledon, Sharapova defeated 11th seed Jelena Dokić to reach the fourth round, where she lost in three sets to Svetlana Kuznetsova.
After being defeated in the second round of the US Open by Émilie Loit, Sharapova won her first two WTA Tour titles in the fall, both at Tier III level. These were the Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo, defeating Anikó Kapros in the final, and the Bell Challenge in Quebec City, defeating Milagros Sequera in the final. She finished the year ranked World No. 32 and was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year.
2004: Breakthrough season
Sharapova was defeated in the third round of the Australian Open by seventh seed Anastasia Myskina. The highlight of the remainder of her spring hardcourt season was a run to the semifinals at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships and the Cellular South Cup in Memphis, USA, where she ultimately lost to Vera Zvonareva.
During the spring clay court season, Sharapova entered the top 20 on the WTA world rankings as a result of reaching the third round of the Qatar Telecom German Open in Berlin and the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, both of which were Tier I events. At the latter event, Sharapova defeated a player ranked inside the top 10 for the first time with a straight-sets win over World No. 10 Elena Dementieva. Sharapova went on to make the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time at the French Open, before losing there to Paola Suárez 6–1, 6–3.
Sharapova won the third title of her career at the Wimbledon warm-up DFS Classic in Birmingham, United Kingdom, defeating Tatiana Golovin in the final. Seeded 13th and aged 17 at Wimbledon, Sharapova reached her second consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal, where she defeated Ai Sugiyama 5–7, 7–5, 6–1 to make her first Grand Slam semifinal. There, she came back from a 6–2, 3–1 deficit to defeat fifth seed and former champion Lindsay Davenport 2–6, 7–6(5), 6–1. In the final, Sharapova upset top seed and defending champion Serena Williams 6–1, 6–4 to win her first Grand Slam singles title. She was the third youngest woman to win the Wimbledon title, behind only Lottie Dod and Martina Hingis. She entered the top ten for the first time as a result of the win.
Sharapova's form dipped in the aftermath of her Wimbledon victory, winning just three of six matches in her preparations for the US Open. At the US Open itself, she reached the third round before being eliminated by Mary Pierce. However, Sharapova rebounded in the fall to win consecutive titles in Asia, first defeating Marta Domachowska to win the Hansol Korea Open Tennis Championships in Seoul, South Korea, before defeating Mashona Washington to retain the Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.
In October, Sharapova defeated Venus Williams en route to making the final of a Tier I event for the first time at the Zurich Open, losing in the final to Alicia Molik. She then made her debut at the year-ending WTA Tour Championships in Los Angeles. There, she won two of her three round-robin matches (including a win over US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova) in order to advance to the semifinals, where she defeated Myskina. In the final, Sharapova defeated an injured Serena Williams 4–6, 6–2, 6–4, after trailing 4–0 in the final set.
Sharapova's win-loss record came to 55-15. Her five titles during the year were matched or bettered only by Davenport (7) and Justine Henin (5). Sharapova topped the prize money list for the year and finished 2004 (7 years ago) ranked World No. 4.
Sharapova started the year at the Australian Open, where she defeated fifth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach the second Grand Slam semifinal of her career. Sharapova held match points in the third set of her semifinal match before losing to the eventual champion Serena Williams 2–6, 7–5, 8–6. In February, at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, Sharapova defeated top-ranked Lindsay Davenport to win a Tier I title for the first time in her career. Sharapova also won her next tournament three weeks later, the Qatar Total Open in Doha, defeating Alicia Molik in the final. Sharapova reached the top three on the world rankings for the first time as a result of this success.
In the semifinals of the Tier I Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, Sharapova was defeated by Davenport 6–0, 6–0, the first time she had failed to win a game in a match. The following fortnight, she defeated former World No. 1 players Justine Henin and Venus Williams to reach the final at the Tier I NASDAQ-100 Open in Miami, where she lost to Kim Clijsters. As a result of this, Sharapova continued her progress on the world rankings, rising to a career-high of World No. 2.
Sharapova made the semifinals of a clay-court tournament for the first time at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, where she lost to Patty Schnyder. Sharapova would have become the World No. 1 for the first time had she won the tournament. Sharapova then reached the quarterfinals of the French Open for the second consecutive year, before losing to eventual champion Henin. On grass, Sharapova won her third title of the year when she successfully defended her title at the DFS Classic in Birmingham, United Kingdom, defeating Jelena Janković in the final. As the defending champion at Wimbledon, Sharapova reached the semifinals without dropping a set and losing a service game just once, extending her winning streak on grass to 24 matches. However, she was then beaten by eventual champion Venus Williams 7–6(2), 6–1.
A back injury sustained by World No. 1 Davenport at Wimbledon prevented her from playing tournaments during the summer hardcourt season, which meant she could not earn new ranking points to replace those that were expiring from the previous year. Sharapova, although also injured for much of this time, had far fewer points to defend, and so she became the first Russian woman to hold the World No. 1 ranking on Aug. 22, 2005 (6 years ago). Her reign lasted only one week, however, as Davenport reclaimed the top ranking after winning the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament in New Haven, Connecticut.
As the top seed at the US Open, Sharapova lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Clijsters 6–2, 6–7(4), 6–3. However, she once again leapfrogged Davenport to take the World No. 1 ranking on sep. 12, 2005 (6 years ago). She retained it for six weeks but, after playing few tournaments during the fall due to injury, she again relinquished the ranking to Davenport after six weeks. To conclude the year, Sharapova failed to defend her title at the year-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Los Angeles, defeating Davenport in one of her round-robin matches but ultimately losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Amélie Mauresmo.
Sharapova's win-loss record for the year was 53-12. She finished the year as World No. 4 for the second year and as the top-ranked Russian for the first time, having won three titles. She was the only player to reach three Grand Slam semifinals, having lost at all four Grand Slam tournaments to the eventual champion.
Sharapova started 2006 (5 years ago) by losing in the semifinals of the Australian Open in three sets to Henin. Sharapova lost to Henin again in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships several weeks later, having defeated former World No. 1 Martina Hingis and World No. 3 Lindsay Davenport in earlier rounds of the tournament. Sharapova claimed her first title in nine months at the Tier I tournament in Indian Wells, defeating Hingis in the semifinals and Elena Dementieva in the final. The following fortnight, she reached the final in Miami before losing to Kuznetsova.
Sharapova celebrating after winning the 2006 (5 years ago) US Open.Sharapova did not participate in any of the clay-court warm-up tournaments due to injury, but she returned for the French Open. There, after saving match points in defeating Mashona Washington in the first round, Sharapova was eliminated in the fourth round by Dinara Safina 7–5, 2–6, 7–5, having led 5–1 in the third set.
On grass, Sharapova was unsuccessful in her attempt to win in Birmingham for the third consecutive year, losing instead in the semifinals to Jamea Jackson. Despite that, she was among the title favorites at Wimbledon, but was defeated in the semifinals by top seed and eventual champion Mauresmo. This marked Sharapova's fifth consecutive defeat in a Grand Slam semifinal.
Sharapova claimed her second title of the year at the Tier I Acura Classic in San Diego, defeating Clijsters for the first time in the final. As the third seed at the US Open, Sharapova defeated top seed Mauresmo for the first time in the semifinals 6–0, 4–6, 6–0. Playing in her second Grand Slam final, Sharapova defeated second seed Henin 6–4, 6–4 in order to win her second Grand Slam singles title.
That autumn, Sharapova won titles in back-to-back weeks – the Tier I Zurich Open, defeating Daniela Hantuchová (9 walls) in the final and the Generali Ladies Linz in Linz, Austria, defeating defending champion Nadia Petrova in the final. At the year-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Madrid, Sharapova won all three of her round-robin matches in straight sets (including a win over Clijsters) to extend her winning streak to 19 matches. However, she then lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Henin. Sharapova would have finished the season as World No. 1 had she won the event. As it was, she finished ranked World No. 2, her best finish yet. She was the top Russian player for the second year. Her total of three Tier I titles was more than any other player, while her total of five titles at all tiers was second only to Henin's six. Her win-loss record amassed to 59-9.
2007-2008: Injuries and erratic form
Sharapova was the top seed at the Australian Open due to top-ranked Justine Henin's withdrawal. Sharapova was two points away from defeat in the first round against Camille Pin before eventually winning 6–3, 4–6, 9–7. She went on to make the semifinals, where she defeated fourth seed Kim Clijsters 6–4, 6–2 in order to reach the final of the tournament for the first time. However, there, she was overpowered by Serena Williams, ranked World No. 81 at the time, losing 6–1, 6–2. By reaching the final, Sharapova recaptured the World No. 1 ranking. She held it for seven weeks before surrendering it back to Henin after failing to defend her title at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, losing in the fourth round to Vera Zvonareva, after struggling with a hamstring injury. The following fortnight, Sharapova defeated Venus Williams in three sets in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami before suffering her second comprehensive defeat of the year by Serena Williams, 6–1, 6–1.
A shoulder injury also forced Sharapova to miss most of the clay court season for the second consecutive year. Her only tune-up for the French Open was the Istanbul Cup, where she lost in the semifinals to Aravane Rezaï. Despite her lack of preparation, she reached the semifinals of the French Open for the first time in her career (having saved match points against Patty Schnyder in the fourth round) but she then lost to Ana Ivanović 6–2, 6–1.
On grass, Sharapova reached her second final of the year at the DFS Classic in Birmingham, United Kingdom, but lost there to Jelena Janković. At Wimbledon, Sharapova was defeated in the fourth round by the eventual champion Venus Williams 6–1, 6–3. This was Sharapova's earliest exit at Wimbledon since 2003 (8 years ago).
Sharapova won her first title of the year at the Tier I Acura Classic in San Diego, retaining her title by defeating Schnyder in the final. As a result, she clinched the US Open Series for the first time in her career. Seeded second at the US Open, Sharapova won her first two matches with the loss of only two games but lost her third round match to 18 year-old 30th seed Agnieszka Radwańska 6–4, 1–6, 6–2, after being up a break in the third set. It was Sharapova's earliest exit at a Grand Slam singles tournament since the 2004 (7 years ago) US Open where she lost in the same round.
Following the US Open loss, Sharapova did not play again until the Kremlin Cup in Moscow in October, where she lost her opening match to Victoria Azarenka. Shortly after this, she fell out of the top five on the world rankings for the first time since 2004 (7 years ago). She qualified for the eight-woman year-ending Sony Ericsson Championships only because Venus Williams withdrew from the tournament. Despite having not previously won a match in two months, Sharapova topped her round-robin group at the tournament after winning all three of her matches,, including a three-set win over World No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova and a 6–1, 6–2 win over Ivanović. She then defeated Anna Chakvetadze in the semifinals. 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.
Sharapova ended the year with a win-loss of 40-11 and ranked World No. 5, her fourth consecutive year-end finish in the top five. However, for the first time since 2004 (7 years ago) she did not finish the year as the top-ranked Russian (the honor instead being held by Kuznetsova) and for the first time since 2002 (9 years ago), she won just one singles title.
Sharapova was seeded fifth at the Australian Open. There, she defeated former World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport in the second round, before later defeating the current World No. 1 Henin in the quarterfinals 6–4, 6–0, ending the latter's 32-match winning streak. Sharapova then beat third seed Janković 6–3, 6–1 in the semifinals to reach the final for the second consecutive year. There, she defeated fourth seed Ivanović 7–5, 6–3 to win her third Grand Slam title. She became the first female Russian ever to have won the Australian Open and did so without losing a set.
After the Australian Open, Sharapova extended her winning streak to 18 matches before finally losing for the first time in the season. This run encompassed two wins in singles rubbers when making her debut for Russia in the Fed Cup against Israel and victory at the Tier I Qatar Total Open in Doha, Qatar, defeafing Zvonareva in the final. Her winning streak was ended in the semifinals of the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California by Kuznetsova. In April, Sharapova reached the final at the Bausch & Lomb Championships in Amelia Island, Florida, the first time she had reached the final at a clay-court tournament, having defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues in the third round in 3 hours, 26 minutes, her longest ever match. In the final, Sharapova defeated Dominika Cibulková. The following week, at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, Sharapova lost in the quarterfinals to Serena Williams, her fourth consecutive loss to the American.
In May, Sharapova regained the World No. 1 ranking because of Henin's sudden retirement from professional tennis and request to the Women's Tennis Association that her own ranking be removed immediately. As the top-seeded player at the French Open Sharapova was within two points of being knocked out by Evgeniya Rodina in the first round, before eventually winning. Sharapova ultimately lost to 13th-seeded and eventual runner-up Dinara Safina in a 2 hour, 52 minute fourth round match 6–7(6), 7–6(5), 6–2, having held a match point in the second set. She relinquished the World No. 1 ranking as a result of this loss. Sharapova's dip in form continued at Wimbledon, where she lost in the second round to World No. 154 Alla Kudryavtseva. This was her earliest loss at a Grand Slam in almost five years and her earliest loss ever at Wimbledon.
At the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada in August, Sharapova withdrew from the tournament due to a shoulder injury, after defeating Marta Domachowska in her first match there. A MRI scan then revealed that Sharapova had been suffering from a rotator cuff tear since April. This injury prevented Sharapova from playing again during the year, missing the Beijing Olympics, the US Open and the WTA Tour Championships. In October, after a failed attempt to rehabilitate the shoulder, Sharapova had surgery to repair the tear.
Due to her long absence, she failed to play at least 40 matches in a year with a win-loss of 32-4 and three titles. She finished the year ranked World No. 9.
Sharapova did not attempt to defend her Australian Open title as she continued to recover from surgery. She returned to the sport in March, in the doubles tournament at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, but she and partner Elena Vesnina lost in the first round. After this, Sharapova withdrew from further singles tournaments. As Sharapova's hiatus continuted, her standing in the world rankings was severely affected. She dropped out of the top 100 for the first time in six years in May, the nadir being World No. 126.
Sharapova played her first singles tournament in nearly ten months in May, at the clay-court Warsaw Open. There, she won her first two matches but lost in the quarterfinals to Alona Bondarenko. The following week, Sharapova played at the French Open, where she won all of her first four matches in three sets, including a win over 11th seed Nadia Petrova (6–2, 1–6, 8–6) in the second round. In the quarterfinals, Sharapova lost to Dominika Cibulková 6–0, 6–2.
Sharapova reached the semifinals of the Wimbledon tune-up in Birmingham, and then lost surprisingly in the second round of Wimbledon to Gisela Dulko.
Sharapova then traveled to North America for the 2009 (2 years ago) US Open Series. She reached the quarterfinals in Stanford, losing to eventual finalist Venus Williams, and then had wins over Victoria Azarenka and Alona Bondarenko to reach the semi-finals in Los Angeles, losing to eventual champion Flavia Pennetta. Sharapova then reached her first final since Apr. 2008 (3 years ago), at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, beating Vera Zvonareva and Agnieszka Radwanska en route. She lost in the final to Elena Dementieva 6–4, 6–3. At the US Open, she defeated Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round. She then faced 17-year-old American Christina McHale in the second round, winning 6-2, 6-1. In the third round, she lost to 17-year-old Melanie Oudin, 3–6, 6–4, 7–5. She may have been injured before or during this match, since she asked for evaluation and treatment of her right arm and shoulder by a trainer. Melanie Oudin, who had beaten Elena Dementieva in the match before, enjoyed support from the home crowd. Sharapova ended up committing 21 double faults and 60 unforced errors, thereby gifting nearly a set worth of points to Oudin. During the match Sharapova called in the medic for a pain in her hand, which could suggest possible future difficulties with injury.
Fed Cup participation
The behaviour of Sharapova's father during her matches on the WTA Tour, combined with a perceived lack of commitment by her to the Fed Cup, has made her selection for the Russian Fed Cup team cause controversy in the past.
After Sharapova had beaten fellow Russian Anastasia Myskina at the 2004 (7 years ago) WTA Tour Championships, Myskina criticised Sharapova's father saying : "He 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." At the Fed Cup semi-finals two weeks later Myskina stated she would stop playing for Russia if Sharapova joined the Russian team the following season : "If she joins our team next season you won't see me there for sure. His behaviour is totally incorrect, simply rude. I don't want to be around people like him." Larisa Neiland, assistant to Russia Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev, added : "Her father's behaviour (at the WTA Tour Championships) was simply outrageous. I just don't see how he could work with the rest of us." However Tarpishchev himself played down the problem : "I feel that things will calm down soon and we'll have Myskina, Sharapova, Kuznetsova and everyone else playing for Russia."
At the end of 2005 (6 years ago), Sharapova stated she was now keen to make her Fed Cup debut and was set to play against Belgium in Apr. 2006 (5 years ago), but withdrew. Sharapova later withdrew from ties against Spain in Apr. 2007 (4 years ago) and against the United States in Jul. 2007 (4 years ago) because of injuries. The latter withdrawal led to Russia's captain saying she would be "ineligible for selection" for the Fed Cup final in September. However, Sharapova attended the final, cheering from the sidelines and acting as a "hitting partner" in practices, resulting in some of her Russian teammates implying that she was attending only to enable her to play at the 2008 (3 years ago) Beijing Olympics (rules state that players must have "shown commitment" to Fed Cup in order to play). Svetlana Kuznetsova said, "She said she wanted to be our practice partner but if you can't play how then can you practice?"
Sharapova finally made her Fed Cup debut in Feb. 2008 (3 years ago), in Russia's quarterfinal tie against Israel. Sharapova won both her singles rubbers, against Tzipora Obziler and Shahar Pe'er, helping Russia to a 4–1 victory. Sharapova, however, did not play in Russia's Fed Cup semifinal or final later that year due to her injuries.
Sharapova has lived in the United States since moving there at the age of nine, but retains her Russian citizenship. She has a home in Manhattan Beach, California. Sharapova lists fashion, movies, music and reading the Sherlock Holmes (2 walls) 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.
At the 2004 (7 years ago) 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 2005 (6 years ago), she donated around US$50,000 to those affected by the crisis. On Feb. 14, 2007 (4 years ago), Sharapova was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and donated US$100,000 to UNDP Chernobyl-recovery projects. She stated at the time that she was planning to travel back to the area after Wimbledon in 2008 (3 years ago), though it is unknown whether this happened.
In Jul. 2008 (3 years ago), Sharapova sent a message on DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) to the memorial service of Emily Bailes, who had performed the coin toss ahead of the 2004 (7 years ago) Wimbledon final that Sharapova had gone on to win.
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 (3 years ago) 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.
She is also dating Charlie Ebersol, a movie Producer. He is the son of Dick Ebersol, NBC Sports & Olympics chairman. And in the past Sharapova was linked romantically to Andy Roddick; both were seen many times together off court, but denied any relationship beyond a good friendship.
Arguably, the combination of her tennis success and physical beauty have enabled her to secure commercial endorsements that greatly exceed in value her tournament winnings. In Apr. 2005 (6 years ago), People named her one of the 50 most beautiful celebrities in the world. In 2006 (5 years ago), Maxim ranked Sharapova the hottest athlete in the world for the fourth consecutive year. She posed in a six-page bikini photoshoot spread in the 2006 (5 years ago) Valentine's Day issue of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, alongside 25 scantily-clad supermodels.
In a poll run by Britain's FHM magazine, she was voted the seventh most eligible bachelorette, based on both "wealth and looks."
Sharapova used the Prince Tour Diablo for part of 2003 (8 years ago) and then used several different Prince racquets until the US Open. She gave the racquet she used in the 2004 (7 years ago) Wimbledon final to Regis Philbin when taping Live with Regis and Kelly. Sharapova began using the Prince Shark OS 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 Jan. 2006 (5 years ago). Because of Sharapova's various shoulder injuries, she switched to the Prince O3 Speedport Black in Jul. 2008 (3 years ago).
In Jun. 2007 (4 years ago), Forbes magazine listed her as the highest-paid female athlete in the world, with annual earnings of over US$23 million, the majority of which was 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."
Sharapova has also been depicted in many tennis-related video games, along with such players as Daniela Hantuchová (9 walls), Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams and Anna Kournikova. Some of the titles are Top Spin (Playstation 2 version), Top Spin 2, Smash Court Tennis 3, Virtua Tennis 3, and Top Spin 3. She has also recently been featured in Virtua Tennis 2009 (2 years ago) and she will be featured in Grand Slam Tennis by EA Games.
Upon hearing that Sports Illustrated had named her in 2006 (5 years ago) as the world's best-paid female athlete, Sharapova said, apparently only a little tongue-in-cheek, "It's never enough. Bring on the money. There's no limit to how much you can make."