Maria SharapovaAnna Kournikova. She’s Russian, blonde and quite the looker. So what sets her apart from everyone’s favorite calendar girl? She can actually win, complete with stunningly long legs that complement her six-foot-tall stature and an impressive grunt that has gained her plenty of its own recognition. Maria has been called the “Queen of Grunts” and the “Siberian Siren,” among a slew of other creative nicknames that low-life commentators have time to make up. With a recent win at Wimbledon and a series of money-spinning deals with Nike, NEC and Prince, Maria has already been prepared for the life of a sports celebrity.
Born in Nyagan, a small Siberian town in Russia, Maria was introduced to the father of tennis pro Yevgeny Kafelnikov and given her very first racket at the age of three. As soon as she hit a few balls, Maria became obsessed with the sport and quickly enrolled in a tennis clinic at six. When tennis pro Martina Navratilova discovered the raw talent of the youngster, she went to Maria’s father to recommend that she study at the world-renowned Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida. Only a year later, Maria and her father went to Florida with no understanding of English and little money, but the sports management company IMG agreed to sponsor Maria’s $35,000/year tuition.
In 2001, the young star joined the junior circuit, and in her first two seasons won 51 matches and lost only six, coming away with six titles. After ranking 186th on the WTA charts with a professional loss to Monica Seles, Maria joined the big leagues and surprised skeptical players with an impressive 34-11 record. By the end of 2003, Maria had won two pro titles (the Quebec City and Japan Open) and two doubles titles with Tamarine Tanasugarn, moving her way up the ranks to 32. With a consistent winning record under her belt and her beautiful face being splashed on magazine covers across the globe, Maria should have no problem settling in to her new role as a celebrity.
Maria Sharapova on the Web
The athlete profile page also includes recent news, tournament results and a few pictures.
The ultimate fan site offers visitors 1500 photos from the court and magazine shoots, a collection of more than 20 interviews and a massive database of magazine articles.
All of the latest news on Maria's career, 24 picture galleries and a schedule of her upcoming tournament dates.
Maria Shaparova Picture Page
A amateurish site with enough sexy pictures to make your nose bleed.
A nice collection of photos and some fun facts about the rising star.
International Fan Club
Another fan site full of pictures and match results.
After winning the 2004 Wimbledon championship over top-ranked Serena Williams in straight sets, Maria has become the new star of the court, finally putting a stop to an image that has become closely compared to fellow Ruskie, Anna K.
On her image:
"I've always just wanted to be me and people can say whatever they want to say."
On her skills:
"I think I pretty much shut everyone up after I won at Tokyo."
On the inevitable comparisons to Anna K:
"I am Maria Sharapova and not anyone else."
On winning Wimbledon:
"It's amazing really, I'm absolutely speechless. It's always been my dream to come here and win but it was never in my mind that I would do it this year. When I came off court and saw my name on that board with all the champions, that was when I realized what I'd done. I thought I was going to get sick and I was in tears. I didn't think I'd be ready to go out and win. I did not think about it being a final, I didn't think who I was playing, I was just concentrating on my own game. I don't know how I won. I don't know what the tactics were. I just didn't care what was going on around me -- I was in my own little world. I just told myself the power was in me and if I put my mind to do something, I can do it."