Name: Maria Yuryevna Sharapova
Date of Birth: April 19, 1987
Place of Birth: Nyagan, Russia
Raised in: Sochi, Russia and Bradenton, Florida
Height: 6′ 2″ (1.88 m)
Tennis Education: Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy
Management Company: IMG
Family: Yur Sharapov and Yelena Sharapova

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From Russia with Love

Early years: Maria Sharapova with her parents.

Sharapova’s parents liked to play tennis, and they gave her a racket as a toddler and began teaching her how to hit the ball. Because they could not afford a genuine child-size racket, they cut off the handle of an adult one for her to master instead. She proved to be a quick learner, and when she was six years old they traveled to Moscow for a youth tennis clinic. One of the celebrity athletes at the event was Czech-born Martina Navratilova, a nine-time women’s singles winner at Wimbledon. Navratilova was impressed by Sharapova’s skills and suggested to the parents that they contact the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida. This was a tennis-focused boarding school that had trained several future champions, including Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Monica Seles.

The Union Soviet had just collapsed two years later and getting a visa to leave the country was nearly impossible. A few months after the encounter with Navratilova, Yuri was informed that he and Maria had been granted exit visas, but Maria would have to leave her mother. Yelena had to stay behind in Sochi and waited for her visa application to be approved. “The only thing I really remember is packing my books. I told my mom that I wanted to be sure to have a piece of my country with me.” They also needed money for the trip and had to borrow several hundred dollars from Yuri and Yelena’s parents. This was an enormous sum for her parents, partly because Russia was in a state of financial chaos at the time, and average working families like hers struggled to obtain the basic necessities of life in the new, non-Communist era in which the state did not generously provide jobs, housing, and healthcare for all citizens. “My parents weren’t stupid,” Sharapova told Peter Kafka in Forbes. “The conditions in Russia weren’t the best for tennis.”

 Junior Career and First Titles

Maria Sharapova in 2002

They arrived in Florida in 1994, shortly before Maria’s seventh birthday. However, Maria couldn’t be accepted in any top tennis academy because she was too young. With limited English skills and little money, Yuri struggled to make money. He juggled low paying jobs, some days working in construction, others sweeping off in a store. “I remember I had a few bucks in my pocket and I get no place to stay and people told me if you’re not going to pay you’ll end up in the street tomorrow. I said to them, ‘you cannot push me on the streets, I have this seven year old little girl, you cannot do it.’ and they said, no, we can.” Yuri says in an interview for ESPN in 2010. In the same interview, Maria talks about her time in the United States. “I spent a lot of time on my own, his work hours were all over the map, a lot of them were night hours.” Maria quickly started learning english, and in four months she was able to hold a conversation.

At the end of her second year in the US, her mother obtained enter to the country and Maria earned a tennis scholarship worth more than $35,000. The Academy was part of the International Management Group (IMG), a talent agency that handled the careers of entertainers and athletes, and its scouts likely recognized Sharapova’s potential for future stardom.

But when Sharapova entered the Bollettieri Academy, she had to live in its boarding school. She later hinted in interviews that it was a tough, competitive atmosphere, and she was sometimes the target of bullying by the older girls. Her days included regular academic classes and as many as six hours a day on the tennis courts in practice sessions. At the age of eleven, she signed on with coach Robert Lansdorp, who had guided the careers of Sampras as well as Tracy Austin, a two-time U.S. Open winner, and Lindsay Davenport, who won three Grand Slam events between 1998 and 2000. Sharapova also signed with IMG around this time, and this paved the way for her first deal with Nike, the athletic shoe and clothing maker.

Sharapova first hit the tennis scene in November 2000, when she won the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships in the girls’ 16 division at the age of just 13. She was then given a special distinction, the Rising Star Award, which is awarded only to players of exceptional promise. Sharapova made her professional debut in 2001 on her 14th birthday on April 19, and played her first WTA tournament at the Pacific Life Open in 2002, winning a match before losing to Monica Seles. Due to restrictions on how many professional events she could play, Sharapova went to hone her game in junior tournaments, where she reached the finals of the girls’ singles events at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2002. She was the youngest girl ever to reach the final of the Australian Open junior championship at 14 years and 9 months.

Sharapova reached No. 6 in the ITF junior world singles ranking on October 21, 2002. In all, she won three junior singles tournaments and was runner-up at five, including two junior Grand Slam events. Her win-loss record in junior competition was 47–9.

 A Tennis Star is Born

Maria holding the Wimbledon trophy after winning in 2004.

From 2003, Sharapova played a full season and made a rapid climb into the top 50 by the end of the year. She made her debuts at both the Australian Open and the French Open, but failed to win a match in either. Then, as a wildcard at Wimbledon, she defeated 11th seed Jelena Dokić, her first win over a top-20 player, to reach the fourth round, where she lost in three sets to Svetlana Kuznetsova.

By the end of September, Sharapova had already captured her first WTA title at a smaller event, the Japan Open Tennis Championships, before winning her second in her final tournament of the season, the Bell Challenge. To cap off her first full season as a professional, she was awarded the WTA Newcomer of the Year honor.

During the 2004 spring clay-court season, Sharapova entered the top 20 on the WTA world rankings. Sharapova won the third title of her career at the Wimbledon warm-up DFS Classic, defeating Tatiana Golovin in the final.

Seeded 13th and aged 17 at Wimbledon, she reached her first Grand Slam semifinal by defeating Ai Sugiyama. She romped through the first week without dropping a set, before coming up against Lindsay Davenport in a memorable semi-final. This one included an hour-long rain delay, which Sharapova passed by reading OK! magazine. “I think she was leading by a set and a break when the rain came,” says Sharapova. “I was down and out. But I was a happy girl. I was in the semi-finals for the first time. A few weeks ago I’d been a quarter-finalist at Roland Garros, and I was happy to be booking a flight home late in the second week of Wimbledon. Then the rain stopped and I remember just before I went on court my dad looked me in the eyes and said, ‘You’re going to win this match.’ And I gave him a ‘Yeah, right’ kind of look. It was tough to face him afterwards because you never want to admit when your father’s right.” Sharapova’s 2-6, 7-6, 6-1 victory sent Eisenbud back to the travel agent to rebook flights for the third time that week.

In the final, Sharapova upset top seed and defending champion Serena Williams to win her first Grand Slam singles title, and become the third-youngest woman to win the Wimbledon title, behind only Lottie Dod and Martina Hingis. Sharapova also became the second Russian woman (after Anastasia Myskina had won the year’s previous major at Roland Garros) to win a Grand Slam singles title. The victory was hailed by the media as “the most stunning upset in memory.” “I just remember being on the ground and looking at the box and shaking my head and saying, ‘Did this really happen?” She entered the top 10 in the rankings for the first time as a result of the win.

Following her Wimbledon win, attention and interest in Sharapova in the media greatly increased, a rise in popularity dubbed “Maria Mania.” She then made her debut at the year-ending WTA Tour Championships. 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, she defeated Serena Williams, after trailing 4–0 in the final set.

I’m Not The Next Anyone… I’m The First Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova kissing the US Open trophy in 2006.

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 eventual champion Serena Williams. Sharapova then reached the quarterfinals of the French Open for the second consecutive year, before losing to eventual champion Henin. 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.

Sharapova had far fewer points to defend, and so she became the first Russian woman to hold the world No. 1 ranking on August 22, 2005. Her reign lasted only one week, however, as Davenport reclaimed the top ranking after winning the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament. As the top seed at the US Open, Sharapova lost in the semifinals to Kim Clijsters, meaning she had lost to the eventual champion in every Grand Slam of the season. However, she once again leapfrogged Davenport to take the world No. 1 ranking on September 12, 2005. She retained it for six weeks, but after playing few tournaments while injured, she again relinquished the ranking to Davenport. She finished 2006 with 3 titles and good results in all Grand Slams.

Sharapova started 2006 by losing in the semifinals of the Australian Open in three sets to Henin. She returned for the French Open. There, after saving match points in defeating Mashona Washington in the first round, she was eliminated by Dinara Safina in the fourth round. Despite that, she was among the title favorites at Wimbledon, where the eventual champion Mauresmo ended up beating her in the semifinals.

As the third seed at the US Open, Sharapova defeated top seed Mauresmo for the first time in the semifinals, and then followed up by beating second seed Justine Henin to win her second Grand Slam singles title.  “To win your second slam is like the cherry on the cake, but there are a lot more cherries that I’m going to put on that cake, so I’m looking forward to having them,” Sharapova said. By winning all three of her round-robin matches at the WTA Tour Championships, she extended her win streak to 19 matches, before it was snapped in the semifinals by 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 year-end finish yet. She won five title in the 2006 season.

 Shoulder injury and Australia

Holding the Australian Open trophy in 2008.

In 2007 Sharapova was the top seed at the Australian Open due to top-ranked Justine Henin’s withdrawal. After being two points away from defeat in the first round against Camille Pin, she went on to reach the final of the tournament for the first time, but was routed there by Serena Williams. After reaching the final, Sharapova recaptured the world No. 1 ranking. She held it for seven weeks, surrendering it back to Henin after failing to defend her title at the Pacific Life Open.

A shoulder injury forced Sharapova to miss most of the clay-court season for the second consecutive year. She reached the semifinals of the French Open for the first time in her career, before losing to Ana Ivanovic. Following that, she experienced her earliest Wimbledon loss since 2003 by losing in the fourth round to eventual champion Venus Williams. In her US Open title defense, Sharapova was upset in her third-round match to 30th seed Agnieszka Radwańska, making it her earliest exit at a Grand Slam singles tournament since the 2004 US Open, where she lost in the same round. Following the US Open loss, Sharapova did not play again until the Kremlin Cup in October, where she lost her opening match to Victoria Azarenka. Shortly after this, she fell out of the top 5 in the world rankings for the first time since 2004.

In 2008 Sharapova was seeded fifth at the Australian Open, but was not considered a favorite. Nevertheless, she defeated former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport in the second round, and then world No. 1 Henin in the quarterfinals, ending the latter’s 32-match winning streak. She proceeded to the finals by defeating Jelena Janković in the semifinals, and defeated Ana Ivanovic in the final to win her third Grand Slam title, having not dropped a set all tournament. “This is just incredible,” she said. “If someone had told me in the middle of last year I’d be standing here with the big one, I’d have said ‘forget it.’

In May, Sharapova regained the world No. 1 ranking because of Henin’s sudden retirement from professional tennis and request to the WTA 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. As a result of losing to eventual finalist Dinara Safina in the fourth round (after serving for the match),[68] she relinquished her No. 1 ranking. Her 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 Wimbledon, and at any Grand Slam in almost five years.

Sharapova withdrew from the Rogers Cup tournament in August following a shoulder injury. An MRI scan revealed that she had been suffering from a rotator cuff tear since April, forcing her out of all tournaments for the rest of the season, including the Beijing Olympics, the US Open, and the WTA Tour Championships. In spite of that, she still finished the year ranked world No. 9. In October, after a failed attempt to rehabilitate the shoulder, Sharapova had surgery to repair the tear.

In 2009 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, but she and partner Elena Vesnina lost in the first round. After this, Sharapova withdrew from further singles tournaments, resulting in her standing in the world rankings being severely affected. She dropped out of the top 100 for the first time in six years in May, the nadir being world No. 126.

The Comeback and Claypova

Queen of Clay: Maria holding the Roland Garros trophy 2012.

Playing her first singles tournament in nearly ten months, Sharapova made the quarterfinals of the clay-court Warsaw Open in May, losing to finalist Alona Bondarenko. The following week, in her first Grand Slam appearance since her surgery, she reached the quarterfinals of the French Open, before her run was ended by Dominika Cibulková. Sharapova then played at Wimbledon as the 24th seed. She was upset in the second round by Gisela Dulko in three sets. At the 2009 US Open, Sharapova was seeded 29th. She found her way into the third round, defeating Tsvetana Pironkova and Christina McHale all in straight sets. She was stunned in the third round by American teenager Melanie Oudin. She won one title in 2009.

Sharapova officially began her 2010 season at the Australian Open, where she was upset in her first-round match against Maria Kirilenko. At the French Open, Sharapova’s brief clay season culminated with a third-round loss to four-time champion Justine Henin. As the 16th seed at Wimbledon, Sharapova lost in the fourth round to world No. 1 and eventual champion Serena Williams, despite having three set points in the opening set. At the U.S. Open, Sharapova was the 14th seed. She made it to the fourth round, where she played top seed and 2009 finalist Caroline Wozniacki and lost. She ended the year at number 18 in the world.

It was announced that Sharapova would bring in Thomas Högstedt as a coach for the 2011 season, joining Michael Joyce. Sharapova participated in the first Grand Slam of the season at the Australian Open, where she was the 14th seed, but lost to Andrea Petkovic in the fourth round. At the 2011 French Open, Sharapova was seeded seventh. She defeated French wildcard Caroline Garcia in the second round, despite trailing 3–6, 1–4, before winning the last 11 games of the match. In the quarterfinals, she defeated 15th seed Andrea Petkovic, marking her first Grand Slam semifinal since her comeback from the career-threatening shoulder injury. She then lost to sixth seed and eventual champion Li Na, in the semifinals, ending her clay season with a win-loss record of 12–2. At the 2011 Wimbledon Championships, Sharapova had not dropped a set entering the final, before losing to eighth seed Petra Kvitová in straight sets. Sharapova entered the US Open, where she was seeded third. She beat Heather Watson, and Anastasiya Yakimova, to reach the third round. She was then upset by Flavia Pennetta. However, because of the fall of Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva in the rankings, Sharapova climbed to world No. 2. Sharapova ended the year as No. 4 in the world, her first top-10 finish since 2008 and first top-5 finish since 2007.

Her first tournament of the season was the 2012 Australian Open, where she was seeded fourth. Sharapova advanced to the final round conceding five games, defeating Gisela Dulko, Jamie Hampton, and 30th seed Angelique Kerber, compatriot Ekaterina Makarova and world No. 2 Petra Kvitová. She lost to Victoria Azarenka in two sets. Sharapova was seeded second at the French Open, where she defeated Alexandra Cadanțu, Petra Kvitová on her way to the finals, allowing her to regain the world No. 1 ranking. In the final, she defeated Sara Errani for her first French Open title. Sharapova became only the tenth woman to complete a Career Grand Slam with the French Open victory. “But when I fell down on my knees today I realised this was extremely special; and even more so, yeah. It’s surreal. It’s the most unique moment of my career.”

During the tournament, Sharapova was also asked by the Russian Olympic Committee to carry the Russian flag in the Olympic Games, making her the first female flag bearer for Russia in Olympic history. Sharapova then extended her win streak to 15 matches when she competed in the Wimbledon Championships as the top seed there for the first time in her career. However, she was upset in the fourth round by 15th-seeded Sabine Lisicki, whom she beat in last year’s semifinals. As a result, she lost her No. 1 ranking to Victoria Azarenka.

She played in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, her first Olympics. In the quarterfinals, Sharapova defeated fellow former No. 1 Kim Clijsters to advance to the semifinals, where she faced her compatriot, Maria Kirilenko. Sharapova defeated Kirilenko to reach the Olympic final, where she lost to Serena Williams, marking her worst defeat by the American. With this performance, Sharapova overtook Agnieszka Radwańska as world No. 2.

Sharapova was seeded third at the US Open, but had no hard-court tune-ups after the Olympics due to a stomach virus. Sharapova’s next tournament was the year-end championships in Istanbul, where she was seeded second. She defeated Sara Errani, Agnieszka Radwańska, and Samantha Stosur in the round-robin matches. In the semifinals, Sharapova beat Azarenka, bringing their head-to-head meetings to 7–5 in Azarenka’s favor. Although Sharapova made it to the final, Azarenka clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking with her two round-robin wins. She lost to Serena Williams for the 13th consecutive time in the final.

Claypova and present

Claypova: Maria and the Roland Garros trophy in 2014.

In 2013 She started her season at the Australian Open seeded second. She defeated Olga Puchkova and Misaki Doi in the first two rounds without losing a game in either match, the first time a player has won in back-to-back double bagels at a Grand Slam tournament since the 1985 Australian Open. Sharapova then defeated Venus Williams, Kirsten Flipkens, and Ekaterina Makarova, where in losing only nine games she broke Monica Seles’ record of fewest games dropped heading into a Grand Slam semifinal.She lost to Li Na in the semifinals.

At the 2013 French Open, Sharapova reached the final again, beating Azarenka in three sets in the semifinals, but there she lost in straight sets to Serena Williams. At Wimbledon she was comprehensively beaten in the second round by qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito. Sharapova then returned to the tour at the 2013 Western & Southern Open, where she lost her opening match to Sloane Stephens in three sets. A week later Sharapova withdrew from the U.S. Open citing a shoulder injury, which prematurely ended her season.

Sharapova had not played since August 2013 due to a recurring shoulder injury and made her comeback at the 2014 Brisbane International. At the 2014 Australian Open Sharapova, ranked 3rd, was knocked out of the tournament in the 4th round by the 20th seed, and eventual finalist, Dominika Cibulkova. Sharapova lost the match in 3 sets.

Sharapova was seeded 7th at 2014 French Open and defeated Ksenia Pervak, Tsvetana Pironkova, and Paula Ormaechea in the first 3 rounds, all in straight sets. In the fourth round she defeated Samantha Stosur, reeling off nine straight games from a set and 3–4 down. This marked her 14th win in 16 meetings with the Australian. In the quarters, she defeated Garbine Muguruza, again coming back from a set down, to reach the semifinals at the French for the fourth consecutive year. In the semi-finals, she defeated Eugenie Bouchard, once again coming back from a set down, to reach her third consecutive French Open final. In the final, she defeated Simona Halep in three sets to win her second French Open title and fifth overall Major title. This was the first time since 2001 where a third set was contested in the final. The match took just over three hours, and has been described as one of the best women’s finals in recent years. “If somebody had told me … at some stage in my career, that I’d have more Roland Garros titles than any other Grand Slam, I’d probably go get drunk,” Sharapova said with a chuckle. “Or tell them to get drunk. One or the other.”

The 2014 Wimbledon Championships will be her next tournament as Sharapova chose not to play a warm-up event before the third Grand Slam of the season gets underway. At the 2014 Wimbledon Championships, Sharapova reached the fourth round, where she lost to German Angelique Kerber, the ninth seed, in three sets. At the US Open she was the 5th seed. She defeated compatriot Maria Kirilenko and Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru before overcoming 26th seeded German Sabine Lisicki in round 3 to set up a clash with Caroline Wozniacki in the round of 16. Sharapova lost to the Dane in 3 sets.

Sharapova ended the 2014 season as No. 2 in the world and winning four titles.

Sharapova kicked off her 2015 season at the Brisbane International where she was top seed and received a bye in the first round. Sharapova defeated Yaroslava Shvedova and Carla Suarez Navarro and Elina Svitolina. Reaching the final without dropping a set, Sharapova played an intense match against second seed Ana Ivanovic but came through in three sets. Sharapova’s next tournament was the 2015 Australian Open, where she beat Petra Martić and fellow countrywoman Alexandra Panova (despite having two match points against her) in the first two rounds, before beating Zarina Diyas and Peng Shuai in straight sets. There, she beat seventh-seeded Eugenie Bouchard and fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets to make her fourth Australian Open final, where she lost to Serena Williams in straight sets.

In February, following her participation in the Fed Cup, Sharapova played in Acapulco, where she beat Shelby Rogers, Mariana Duque Mariño and Magdaléna Rybáriková to advance the semifinals. Sharapova later withdrew from her match against Caroline Garcia, citing a stomach virus. Next, in Indian Wells, she beat Yanina Wickmayer and Victoria Azarenka in straight sets, before losing to defending champion Flavia Pennetta in the fourth round in three sets. After receiving a bye in the first round of the Miami Open, Sharapova lost in the second round to fellow Russian Daria Gavrilova in straight sets, marking her earliest exit from the tournament since her first appearance in Miami in 2003.

Sharapova began her clay season in Stuttgart where she was the three time defending champion. After receiving a first round bye, she lost in the second round to Angelique Kerber in three sets, snapping Sharapova’s win streak at the tournament and marking her first ever loss at the tournament having won it three times in a row (2012, 2013, & 2014). As a result of the loss, Sharapova lost the No. 2 ranking to Simona Halep. Sharapova’s next clay court tournament was the Madrid Open where she was the defending champion. She advanced to the semifinals. There, she was beaten by Svetlana Kuznetsova for the first time since 2008. Sharapova’s next tournament was be the Italian Open in Rome where she was seeded 3rd. She beat Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals in straight sets to set up a re-match with Daria Gavrilova. She beat Gavrilova in straight sets to advance to the final, where she faced Carla Suarez Navarro. After losing the first set, Sharapova managed to claim the next two sets and her third Rome title. By winning Rome, Sharapova reclaimed the No. 2 ranking over Halep.

Sharapova concluded her clay-court season at the French Open, returning as the defending champion following her victory over Simona Halep in the 2014 final. She lost in the fourth round against Lucie Safarova in straight sets. After opting not to play in any warm-up events, Sharapova made her only appearance of the grasscourt season at Wimbledon, where she was seeded fourth. There she bear Johanna Konta, Richèl Hogenkamp, Irina-Camelia Begu, Zarina Diyas and Coco Vandeweghe to reach the semis. In her first Wimbledon semifinal since 2011, Sharapova faced top seed Serena Williams, but lost 2–6, 4–6.

Maria withdrew from Rogers Cup and the Western and Southern Open citing a right leg injury. She also withdrew from the US Open.

She then received a wildcard into Wuhan Open and received a bye into the 2nd round. However, she retired in her match against Barbora Strycova in the 3rd set, citing a left forearm injury. She then withdrew from the China Open, where she was the defending champion, to recover in time for the WTA Finals and the Fed Cup final.

At the WTA Finals, she was drawn into the red group, alongside Halep, Radwanska and Pennetta. She then won all three of her round robin matches, and achieved 1st position in her group. She then played the player who finished 2nd in the White Group, Petra Kvitova. She lost the match in straight sets, despite having a 5-1 lead in the second set.

Sharapova then played in the Fed Cup final, winning both of her matches, against Karolina Pliskova and got revenge against Petra Kvitova for her loss in the WTA Finals.

Sharapova ended the season as World No.4, despite not playing the US Open Series and missing most of the Fall Asian Hardcourt season. She had a win-loss record of 39-9 and won 2 titles.

Injuries and suspension

Maria Sharapova during the press conference, announcing she failed a drug test

Sharapova began her 2016 season at the Brisbane International where she was the defending champion. She would have faced Ekaterina Makarova in the 1st round, but withdrew hours before the match, citing a left forearm injury.

Due to Agnieszka Radwańska winning the Shenzhen Open, Sharapova was seeded fifth at the Australian Open. Maria reached the quarterfinals where she faced her long-time rival, Serena Williams, a repeat of the previous year’s final. Although she started the match brightly, she was defeated in straight sets. She failed to defend her finalist points from the previous year, and fell to sixth in the rankings after the tournament.

After the Australian Open, Sharapova was nominated by team captain Anastasia Myskina to play the Fed Cup, but she had a forearm injury and was only listed for the doubles match although she would later be replaced with Ekaterina Makarova. Russia lost 3–1 but by being nominated for the match, Sharapova successfully qualified for the Summer Olympics having played sufficient Fed Cup matches to meet the criteria.

Citing the left forearm injury sustained at the start of the year, Sharapova withdrew from the Qatar Open, and a week before the BNP Paribas Open, she withdrew from that for the same reason.

Following a failed drug test from the 2016 Australian Open, in which she tested positive for meldonium, a substance that had been banned, effective January 1, 2016 by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Sharapova was provisionally suspended from competitive tennis with effect from March 12. On June 8 she was banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation. In October 2016, Sharapova’s ban was reduced from 24 months (2 years) to 15 months, starting from January 26, 2016, the date of the drug test she had failed.

To read more about this case, please head over to our suspension page to find out more details.

The Return

Maria Sharapova celebrates her victory over Simona Halep at the US Open.

Sharapova returned to the WTA tour in April 2017. She was given wild cards to compete in the following three WTA tournaments: Women’s Stuttgart Open, Madrid Open and Italian Open. She played her first match of her comeback on April 26 at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, a tournament that she had previously won on three occasions. Maria reached the semifinals before falling to Kristina Mladenovic in three sets.

Sharapova then took part in the 2017 Mutua Madrid Open where she beat Mirjana Lučić-Baroni in three sets. Sharapova played a second round encounter with Eugenie Bouchard which after three sets Sharapova lost. In the 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia opening match she defeated Christina McHale in straight sets. In her next match, she again faced the sixteenth seed Mirjana Lučić-Baroni. At one set a piece, Sharapova needed a medical timeout for her thigh which ultimately forced her to retire at 2–1 up in the third set.

French Federation President, Bernard Giudicelli, announced that Sharapova would not be receiving a wildcard in the main draw or the qualifying draw which kept her out of the 2017 French Open, a tournament she had won twice.

Sharapova then received a wildcard to play Birmingham Classic. However, the same thigh injury at the Italian Open forced her to withdraw from the entire grass season, including the Wimbledon qualifying rounds.

She was given another wildcard at the Stanford Classic, her first hard court tournament since the 2016 Australian Open. Her first round opponent was Jennifer Brady, whom she defeated in three sets. The win also pushed Sharapova back inside the top 150. Sharapova withdrew from the next round with a left arm injury. She was set to make a return at the Canadian Open, where she had received a wildcard, but ultimately withdraw due to a left arm injury. She was set to play the Cincinnati Open as a wildcard but pulled out to be fully fit for the US Open, which had also granted Sharapova a wildcard entry.

She opened the US Open against world No. 2 Simona Halep, and won in three sets, her first U.S Open win since the 2014 US Open. In second round she defeated Timea Babos, coming from a set down to win in three. In the third round, she played the American wildcard Sofia Kenin, an 18-year-old who was making her first main draw appearance in a major. Sharapova defeated the teenager in tight straight sets to advance to the second week of the US Open. She was defeated by sixteenth seed Anastasija Sevastova from Latvia in the fourth round 7–5, 4–6, 2–6. Sharapova has received and accepted wildcards to enter the China Open and Tianjin Open, both held in China.

Personal Life and Sugarpova

Sugarpova: Maria in a promotional picture for Sugarpova/Pinkberry

Sharapova has lived in the United States since moving there at the age of seven. Besides a home in Bradenton, Florida, she also has a residence in Manhattan Beach, California. However, she has refused to take the American citizenship. She explained her reasons in an interview, “One of the reasons is because deep down inside of me, I know where I’m born. I’m really proud of it, of my Siberian roots, moving to Sochi. Apart from my parents, all my family lives there. It’s all about Russian culture. We speak Russian. We talk Russian.”

Sharapova was engaged to Slovenian professional basketball player Sasha Vujačić, who plays for the Anadolu Efes S.K. in Istanbul, Turkey. The two had been dating since 2009. On August 31, 2012, Sharapova confirmed that the engagement was off and that they had broken up in spring of 2012.

Since the second half of 2012, she started dating Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov. The two only confirmed their relationship after the 2013 Madrid Open. Grigor has spoken about Maria in some interviews, “She’s just been unbelievable throughout all the year so far and just supporting me. I think the feeling is pretty mutual.”  On July 23, 2015 it was confirmed that the couple had ended their three-year relationship.

From 2005 to 2011, Sharapova has been named in Forbes Celebrity 100. This lists her as one of the top 100 most powerful celebrities of the year.

Sharapova has made varying remarks on how long she intends to maintain her tennis career. Following the retirement of 25-year-old Justine Henin in 2008, Sharapova said, “If I was 25 and I’d won so many Grand Slams, I’d quit too.” In an interview after the 2008 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.

However in an interview before her 2012 Australian Open semifinal, Sharapova changed her stance, saying she intended to continue playing tennis for as long as she enjoyed playing the game. Sharapova stated “I’m sure when I was 17 years old and someone said, you’ll be playing for another eight years, it would be like, you’re not going to see me at a press conference at 25 years old. But years go on. I missed a year in my career—I didn’t play that year. I’ve said this, just before the tournament, a few weeks before, I woke up and I was just so happy to be going back on the court. I felt so fresh, full of energy, just with a really good perspective. Times change, obviously. I see myself playing this sport for many more years because it’s something that gives me the most pleasure in my life. I think it helps when you know you’re good at something, and you can always improve it. It obviously helps with the encouragement.”

In 2013 Maria announced the launch of her candy line named Sugarpova. “Sugarpova is a premium candy line that reflects the fun, fashionable, sweet side of international tennis sensation Maria Sharapova.” The line currently consists of 12 different flavors that range from Flirty, to Smitten Sour, to Splashy. A portion of all proceeds goes towards the Maria Sharapova Foundation, Sharapova’s charity.

In February 2016, Sugarpova announced that it had partnered with Polish company Baron Chocolatier to make Sugarpova Premium Chocolates. They are scheduled to arrive on the market in May before the 2016 French Open.

Sugarpova also plans to extend its range to lifestyle products.

Sharapova’s autobiography, Unstoppable: My Life So Far will be published on 12 September 2017.

Last Update: September 2017