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Maria Sharapova
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Maria SharapovaMaria SharapovaMaria SharapovaMaria SharapovaMaria SharapovaMaria Sharapova
Maria SharapovaMaria SharapovaMaria SharapovaMaria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova (Russian: Мария Шарапова) was born April 19th, 1987 in Nyagan, Russia. She is a professional tennis player ranked World No. 2. and has been a United States resident since 1994. Sharapova has won 27 WTA singles titles, including four Grand Slam singles titles. She has also won the year-end WTA Tour Championships in 2004. The Women's Tennis Association has ranked Sharapova World No. 1 in singles on five separate occasions, for a total of 21 weeks. She became the World No. 1 for the first time on August 22, 2005, and regained the ranking for the fifth time on June 11th, 2012. She has been in seven Grand Slam finals with a record of 4–3. Maria 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 that win.

She subsequently won major titles at the 2006 US Open and 2008 Australian Open, before being forced out of the game for ten months by a recurring shoulder injury, which ultimately required surgery in October 2008. Sharapova returned to the game in May 2009, returning to the top 10 in March 2011 and capturing her fourth grand slam title at the 2012 French Open. By doing so, it made her the 6th woman in the Open Era to complete the career grand slam. In the same year, she won an Olympic silver medal in the London 2012 Olympics, losing the final to Serena Williams.

Sharapova has been featured in a number of modeling assignments, including a feature in the 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 magazine, and in March 2012 was named one of the 100 Greatest of All Time by the Tennis Channel.

Her 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 years of age, 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 become Russia's first number one world-ranked tennis player. Aleksandr gave Sharapova her first tennis racquet at the age of four and 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 six, Sharapova attended a tennis clinic in Moscow run by Martina Navratilova, who recommended professional training at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida. This facility had previously trained players such as Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, and Anna Kournikova. Yuri borrowed the sum that would enable him and his daughter, neither of whom could speak English, to travel to the United States, which they finally did in 1994. Unfortunately, visa restrictions prevented her mother from joining them in the USA for two years. Arriving in Florida with savings of US$700, 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.

After a brilliant career she capped off her grand slam titles by finally winning the French Open in 2012. She also competed in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, her first Olympics. She was the flag bearer for Russia during the Olympics Parade of Nations. Seeded 3rd in the tournament, she won her first round match against Israeli player Shahar Pe'er. She then defeated Great Britain's Laura Robson to reach the third round, where she avenged her 2012 Wimbledon loss to Sabine Lisicki by beating her 6–7(8), 6–4, 6–3. In the quarterfinals, Sharapova defeated fellow former no. 1 Kim Clijsters by 6–2, 7–5 to advance to the semifinals, where she faced her compatriot, Maria Kirilenko. Sharapova defeated Kirilenko 6–2, 6–3 to reach the Olympic Final, where she lost to Serena Williams 0–6, 1–6 , marking her worst defeat to the American. With this performance, Maria overcame Agnieszka Radwanska as world no. 2. Sharapova was seeded 3rd at the US Open, but had no hardcourt tune-ups after the Olympics due to a stomach virus. At the US Open, she made it to the semifinals before losing to top seeded Victoria Azarenka in three sets.

For complete details of her career go to: WikiPedia

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Maria Sharapova - Road to Wimbledon 2012

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