Maria Sharapova is a famous former professional tennis player. Her rise to fame came when she became the first Russian woman to win Wimbledon. She's also had success at other high ranking tennis competitions and even the Olympics. However, she faced a lot of controversy when she was suspended from playing tennis after testing positive for banned substances. The substance was meldonium and she had been taking it since 2006 for health reasons. However, the substance was added to the list of banned substances in 2016 and Sharapova was still taking it. She was banned from playing tennis for 15 months.
This controversy received a lot of media attention and made Sharapova even more of a household name. She went back to competing once her ban from tennis was lifted. After playing for three more years, she retired in 2020 but remains one of the most well-known tennis players.
Maria Sharapova was born in Nyagan, Siberia and started playing tennis very young. Her natural talents were noticed and when she was six her family moved to the US for Sharapova to receive professional training in Florida. Her career picked up fast and by 13 she had won the Girls 16s competition. She officially went pro at just 14 years old and became the youngest girl to reach the finals at the Australian Open junior championship in 2002.
In 2003, she won her first WTA Title at the Japan Open Tennis Competition. She then won at Wimbledon the next year when she was 17. She was the first woman Russian athlete to do this and also became the first Russian tennis player to be ranked first worldwide in 2005. She won her second Grand Slam title in 2006 and another in 2008 after battling shoulder problems. She eventually had to get shoulder surgery, but by 2012 she claimed her fourth Grand Slam title at the French Open. She was the tenth woman to complete a career Grand Slam.
Additionally, she won a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics and a fifth Grand Slam at the French Open in 2014. She struggled with her ranking after returning to the sport once her suspension was completed for taking a banned substance. She decided to retire in 2020.
In addition to 5 Grand Slam Titles and 35 other Single Titles, Maria Sharapova has received a lot of other awards throughout her impressive and record breaking tennis career. She won the WTA Newcomer of the Year Award in 2003. She was appointed to be the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the UNDP in 2007 where she focused on the Chernobyl recovery projects.
Also in 2007, she was awarded the Teen Choice Award for the Female Athlete category. She won the ESPY Best Female Tennis Tennis Player Award in 2008, 2012, and 2014. She had the honor of torch bearing when Russia hosted the Winter Olympics in 2014. In addition to all of these impressive accolades, Maria Sharapova has been ranked the number one female tennis player in the world several times throughout her 19 year professional tennis career.
Maria Sharapova was raised in Siberia, Russia. Her natural tennis gifts made her family work hard to move to the USA in order for Sharapova to get more opportunities. Her dad worked whatever jobs he could find while his daughter trained in Florida. She received a scholarship when she was 9 to train at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. Maria's career moved quickly after that.
Sharapova gained lots of sponsorships from top brands including Nike, Porsche, Tiffany & Co, and more. These sponsorships are part of the reason she was rated as one of the highest paid female athletes for many years. After the drug scandal, some sponsors dropped her but a lot stuck with her through it.
Sharapova also has her own business ventures like Sugarpova which is her candy company launched in 2012. Part of the sales help her non-profit business, the Maria Sharapova Foundation. Her foundation helps provide scholarships to children impacted by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Maria Sharapova got suspended from playing tennis in 2016 after she tested positive for an illegal substance before the Australian Open. The substance was meldonium which is used to help with heart conditions and is available over the counter in Russia. This drug was added in 2016 to the list of illegal substances but Sharapova had been taking it for years and was unaware of this change. Since she unintentionally broke the rule, her two year ban was shortened to 15 months.
Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are very famous opponents. They have competed against each other in many serious matches. Sharapova had to beat Williams in order to win her first Grand Slam. She beat her another time in 2004 but after that Sharapova lost to her 20 times. While the two don't consider each other friends, they've definitely both pushed each other to be better athletes since their peak career times aligned.
Although winning a Grand Slam at 17 years old is quite rare, Maria Sharapova isn't the youngest tennis player to win a Grand Slam title. She's actually the fourth youngest. Ahead of her are athletes Tracy Austin, Monica Seles, and Martina Hingis. Hingis was the youngest since she was just 16 years and 177 days old when she won the Australian open in 1997. Other young Grand Slam winners include Michael Chang, Bjorn Borg, and Rafael Nadal.
Sharapova decided to retire at 32 after spending almost her whole life playing tennis. However, Sharapova has enough work to keep her busy for a while. She has multiple business investments that keep her busy. Most notably she is the CEO of Sugarpova, her candy brand which she has built throughout her tennis career. Additionally, she's invested in projects with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Supergoop, a sunscreen company.