Ekaterina Valeryevna Makarova is one of the prominent tennis players from Russia, to have truly made an impact on the WTA Tour. While she didn’t attain that much prominence like Maria Sharapova did on the singles circuit, the Russian moved on to become one of the most formidable players on the doubles tour.
At the young age of six, she was sent to the Luzhniki Olympic Complex by her parents to train and hasn’t looked back since. Her rise on the tour started just like any other players’ - battling her way on the ITF Circuit and eventually, moving up to the WTA. The 28-year-old played her very first tournament in 2003, in the ITF Zhukovskiy. She qualified for the main draw there, but lost in the first round.
Later that year in Elektrstal, she reached the quarterfinal. She finally attained success in 2004, when she won the ITF tournaments in Antalya and Targu Mures. In the subsequent years, however, Makarova realized that she has a better chance of thriving as a doubles player, than as a single.
This was clearly evident from her doubles win on the ITF Circuit. Till 2007, she won only three titles on the singles circuit, while emerging as the runner-up on other three. However, with a partner, she took this tally to 9 wins and 6 runner-up feats. She mainly partnered with the likes of former Belorussian pro, Darya Kustova at the time.
She carried on the same momentum forward to the WTA Circuit as well. In 2008, at the age of 20, she became runner-up twice in Morocco and Slovenia. Interestingly, she returned to Morocco in 2009 to take care of unfinished business and moved on to be crowned as the doubles champion that year.
In 2012, she was partnered with her compatriot Elena Vesnina, with whom she moved on to win 8 doubles titles. This includes the 2013 French Open, 2014 US Open and also, the 2016 WTA Finals. She also won the Gold Medal for her country in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil. She missed out on having a Career Grand Slam with Vesnina, when they emerged as the runner-up in 2014 Australian Open and 2015 Wimbledon.
What’s quite interesting about Makarova is the fact that while she never had this much success as a singles player, she still managed to break into the top 10 in 2015 and achieved her career high singles ranking as the World No. 8. This was built on a great 2014 season, where she was the semifinalist in US Open and quarter-finalist in Wimbledon. In the Australian Open the next year, she reached the semifinal where she lost to Sharapova.
That semifinal run propelled her to the top 10, but by the year-end, her form had taken a drop and she was back in the lower rankings. Interestingly, amidst this time, she managed to win only two WTA titles - 2010 Eastbourne and 2014 Pattaya.