Success came to Maria Sharapova in 1993, when she took part in a demonstration tennis workshop by Martina Navratilova in Moscow. Young Maria impressed the legend of tennis, recalls the author of the article.
This little girl has become a tennis superstar
Maria Sharapova, one of the main tennis stars of the 2000s, officially left the international tennis court on February 26th. During her career, the 32-year-old Russian woman won five Grand Slam tournaments, won silver at the London Olympics in 2012 and won the final WTA (Women’s Tennis Organization) championship.
Sharapova was also famous for her participation in glamorous events and fashion photo shoots, but her life began in much more modest conditions.
Sharapova’s parents, Yuri and Elena, lived in Gomel of the Byelorussian SSR – in other words, in the Soviet Union. Elena was expecting the birth of Mary.
Shortly before the birth of a daughter, parents unexpectedly moved from Gomel to the industrial city of Nyagan in the Khanty-Mansiysk District.
The reason for the unexpected departure was the accident of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The Sharapova family was concerned about the possible consequences of the accident for nearby territories.
“My parents lived only 30 kilometers from the scene of the accident. I want to help residents of the regions affected by the accident, ”Sharapova said in January. “My family was very lucky: my parents were able to leave the region affected by the disaster.”
When Maria Sharapova was three years old, the family moved to Sochi. A year later, she began to play tennis. Then her father Yuri made friends in Sochi with Alexander Kafelnikov. Kafelnikov’s son, Eugene, later won two Grand Slam tournaments.
Soon, Sharapova became a student of Yuri Yutkin.
Success came to Maria Sharapova in 1993, when she took part in a demonstration tennis workshop by Martina Navratilova in Moscow. Young Maria impressed the tennis legend, who, in turn, recommended her to coach Nick Bollettieri, who worked with athletes in Florida. Earlier, Nick Bolletieri helped become tennis stars Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Anna Kournikova.
Yuri Sharapov went with his daughter to Florida – having with him only a few hundred dollars. Due to visa restrictions, mother Elena had to wait two years before she could move to her relatives in Bradenton. To provide financial support for the hobby of his daughter, Yuri Sharapov took any part-time jobs.
All risks and sacrifices were justified. Sharapova quickly developed her abilities in Florida and in due time she climbed to the top in professional tennis. Perhaps the most memorable of the five Grand Slam tournaments was the first – the 2004 Wimbledon tournament. Then, at 18, Maria defeated the strongest tennis player of that period – Serena Williams, who was six years older than Sharapova.
The rivalry between Williams and Sharapova lasted for many years, but the American was still stronger at the tournaments: out of 22 meetings, she won in 20.
And although Williams beat Sharapova in her best years, Sharapova left a significant mark in the history of world tennis: she won five victories in the Grand Slam, in total she won 36 WTA tournaments. 79% of the competitions in which she took part brought her victory (645 wins, 171 defeats).
The most dramatic turn in the career of Maria Sharapova occurred in 2016. Samples for the use of meldonium, passed by the athlete at the beginning of the Australian Open for tennis, were positive. Sharapova was suspended from participation in the competition for two years, later the ban was reduced to 15 months. Due to the doping scandal, she lost the title of UN Goodwill Ambassador in the territories affected by the Chernobyl disaster.
In 2017, Sharapova returned to the tennis court, but was no longer in her previous form. She won one victory in a tournament in China in 2017. She no longer entered the WTA finals.
Her current success could no longer be compared with past achievements, but for the entire time of her career, Sharapova earned about 35 million euros in sports victories. The tennis star received her biggest earnings from sponsors and partners. Business publication Forbes notes that in total, the tennis player earned about 300 million euros.
Great career completed. The choice made before the birth of Maria Sharapova determined her future. If Sharapova’s parents didn’t decide to leave the territories located near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and didn’t move to Sochi later, would she become such a great tennis star?