Maria Yuryevna Sharapova was born on April 19, 1987 in Nyagan’ in Siberia, Russia. Her parents are Yuri and Yelena Sharapova. Sharapove received her first tennis racket at age four. She soon began practicing regularly with her father in a local park. By the age of seven, Sharapova was encouraged to attend the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida. In 1994 Sharapova arrived in Florida with her father. Yuri Sharapova had just $700 to his name and worked various low-paying jobs to fund his daughter’s lessons until she was old enough to enroll in the tennis academy. In 1995 IMG signed Sharapova and enabled her to finally enroll in the tennis academy at age nine.
In November 2000 Sharapove won the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships in the girls’ 16 division. Since Sharapova was only 13 this earned her attention. Sharapove made her professional debut in 2001. She played her first WTA tournament at the Pacific Life Open in 2002.
Sharapova’s big break came in 2004 when, at the age 17, she beat two-time defending champion and top seed Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final for her first Grand Slam singles title. Sharapova won her second major in 2006. She defeated the then world number one Amelie Mauresmo in the semi finals of the US Open. Sharapova defeated the World Number 2 Justine Henin in the final.
Sharapova’s career has been made difficult by a reoccurring shoulder injury. The injury has forced her to miss competition through the years. Despite the injury, Sharapova won her third Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2008.
Sharapova’s celebrity extends past the tennis courts. She has been featured in a number of modeling assignments, including a feature in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
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