Maria Yuryevna Sharapova was born in Nyagan, Siberia, Russia in April 19, 1987. She is an only child of Yuri and Yelena. She began to show interest in tennis at an early age of 4. In 1995, while Maria was only 7, she was brought by her father to the United Stated to train at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Although the school spotted her talent instantly, she was made to wait for another 2 years to be admitted because she was too young then. When she was admitted by the school, she was granted by the academy a yearly $46,000 worth of scholarship.
At 13, Sharapova won her first championship at the junior level. A year later, in 2001, she turned professional. In 2004, the 6’2 beauty won her first Wimbledon title, outshining Serena Williams during the match to the surprise of many. Sharapova is the third youngest to have won the event at only 17 and the only Russian to have won the title since 1974.
It was payback time for Sharapova in 2005, when Serena Williams beat her at the semifinals in the Australian Open. Although she lost her title this year, she nevertheless was the only player to reach 3 Grand Slam semifinals in 2005.
In 2006, she climbed to rank No. 2 in the rankings next to Justine Henin, winning 5 titles. She won 19 consecutive matches, compiling a record of 59-9 until she lost to Justine Henin during the semifinals of the WTA Tour Championships.
2007 was a bad year for Sharapova because of her severe shoulder injury. The injury developed after previously serving with extended backswings to create powerful serves. However, due to her injury, her service was not as impressive as it used to, causing her to fall to World No. 4 in the ranking.
Early in 2008, Sharapova played her first Fed Cup, playing for team Russia against Israel. She was also able to regain her status as the top seed even before the second half of the year began. Her ranking rose to World No. 3 when she claimed the second place in Charleston, South Carolina at the Tier I Family Circle Cup, which she lost to Serena Williams. She became World No. 2 for seizing first place in Rome at the Tier I Internazionali BNL d’Italia. Her status was later elevated to No. 1 after Justine Henin’s unexpected retirement and request to have her ranking be deleted.
Sharapova is right-handed and is noted for her excellent serves and double-handed backhands. She is also known to be an aggressive and offensive player in grass and hard courts but does not fair well in clay. Another signature of Sharapova in court is her constant grunting, for which she was given the alias “Siberian Siren”.
So far, Sharapova has a career record of 410-101 and has won 24 WTA titles, 4 ITF titles and 3 Grand Slams – the Wimbledon (2004), the US Open (2006) and the Australian Open (2008). She, however, failed to top the French Open as according to her, her performance in clay is like a “cow on ice”. Currently, Sharapova is ranked at No. 2 as of September 12, 2011.
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