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Maria Yuryevna Sharapova : Russian professional tennis player


Maria Yuryevna Sharapova (Russian- born April 19, 1987) is a Russian professional tennis player and former world no. 1. A United States resident since 1994, Sharapova has won 25 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 TennisAssociation 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 the ranking for the fourth time on May 19, 2008. As of May 7, 2012, Sharapova is ranked world no. 2. She has been in six Grand Slam finals with the final record 3–3.

Country Russia
Residence Bradenton, Florida, United States
Born April 19, 1987 (age 25)
Nyagan, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 59 kilograms (130 lb)
Turned pro April 19, 2001
Plays Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Career prize money $18,841,677
Singles
Career record 434–108
Career titles 25 WTA, 4 ITF
Highest ranking No. 1 (August 30, 2005)
Current ranking No. 2 (May 7, 2012)

Maria Sharapova's parents, Yuri and Elena, are from Gomel, Belarus. Concerned about the regional effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, they left their homeland shortly before Sharapova was born. When Sharapova was two, the family moved to Sochi. There her father befriended Aleksandr Kafelnikov, whose son Yevgeny would go on to win two Grand Slam singles titles and became Russia's first no. 1 world-ranked 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 saw her play, noting her "exceptional hand-eye coordination."

At the age of seven, Sharapova attended a tennis clinic in Moscow run by Martina Navratilova, 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.[10] 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.[11] Visa restrictions prevented Sharapova's mother from joining them for two years.[9] Arriving in Florida with savings of US$700,[11] 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.

Sharapova made her professional breakthrough in 2004 at age 17, when 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 the 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 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, requiring surgery in October and forcing her out of the game for 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 six singles titles (bringing her career total to 25) and improved her ranking to no. 2 in the world.

Sharapova 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 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 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.
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