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Maria Sharapova's Biography

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Who is Maria Sharapova?

Maria Sharapova was born on 19 April 1987 in Siberia. Maria Sharapova's family had just fled from the Belarussian city of Gomel to escape the fallout from Chernobyl.

When she was just six, Maria Sharapova was playing in an exhibition game of tennis which also featured Martina Navratilova, who is reported to have advised Maria's father Yuri to send his daughter to Nick Bollettieri's academy in Florida.

And so, in 1996 Maria Sharapova followed in the footsteps of Anna Kournikova and left Russia to go to Nick Bollettieri's academy.

In 2001 Maria Sharapova turned professional on her 14th birthday. The following year was one of steady progress for Sharapova who moved from 532 to 186 in the WTA Rankings.

2003 saw Maria Sharapova win two WTA events and end the year at Number 32. Many saw in the right-hander great potential not just as a tennis player but also as a handle for marketing and sponsorship opportunities and she signed with IMG Models.

In 2004 Maria Sharapova won her first grand slam title (Wimbledon) and was named WTA player of the year.

2005 saw Maria Sharapova top two entirely different lists. Forbes estimated her to be the world's richest female athlete, and in August she became the first Russian woman to top the WTA rankings.

Sharapova has had run-ins with other Russian tennis players and has turned down offers to play for Russia in the Fed Cup, focussing on her own schedule instead.

Maria Sharapova's approach paid off in September 2006 when she won the women's singles at the US Open beating Justine Henin-Hardenne in the final.

It was her first grand slam title since Wimbledon 2004 and after her victory, Maria Sharapova said: "I'm still pretty shocked but thrilled I got to experience another Grand Slam win and that it's a different Grand Slam."

To win the US Open Maria Sharapova had to beat the world's No. 2, Justine Henin-Hardenne in the final, and the world's No. 1, Amelie Mauresmo, in the semi-finals.

Although not always a winner, Sharapova had been very consistent in 2006: reaching the semis or further in nine out of ten events.

In October 2006, Maria Sharapova continued in winning form when she beat Daniela Hantuchova to take the Zurich Open title.

In 2007, Maria Sharapova was named as a goodwill ambassador for the UN development agency, UNDP.

Sharapova missed a large part of 2007 with a serious shoulder injury.

In January 2008, Maria Sharapova won her third Grand Slam title with a straight-sets win over Ana Ivanovic in the final of the Australian Open.

In April 2008, Maria Sharapova gained her first tournament win on clay, winning the Amelia Island Championships.

Maria Sharapova's shoulder injury returned and it was not until March 2009 that Sharapova played her first competitive match for seven months, when partnering Elena Vesnina, she lost in the doubles event at the BNP Paribas Open.

On 19 May 2009, Maria Sharapova made her return to singles tennis when she beat Tathiana Garbin at the Warsaw Open.

On 3 October 2009, Sharapova returned from injury to gain another title when Jelena Jankovic retired with a shoulder injury in the final of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

In 2011, Maria Sharapova beat Sabine Lisicki to reach the women's single final at Wimbledon, however, she lost the final to Petra Kvitova.

In July 2013, Maria Sharapova announced that Jimmy Connors would be her new coach, taking over from Thomas Hogstedt, who had been with her for roughly three years.

In 2016, Sharapova tested positive for drugs after losing to Serena Williams at the Australian Open in January.

She revealed that she had taken meldonium for health reasons since 2006, however it became a banned substance in 2016.

In June 2016, she was given a two-year suspension, however the ban was later reduced to 15 months after an appeal.

Maria Sharapova was given a wildcard entry to April 2017's Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

She reached the semi-finals, where she was beaten by Kristina Mladenovich.

In October 2017, she reached her first final since her drugs ban when she beat Shuai Peng in the semi-final of Tianjin Open.

She then won the final beating Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 7-6 (10-8).

Maria Sharapova retired from playing professional tennis in 2020. She was one of only 10 women to have won all four Grand Slam titles.

She has written a memoir entitled Unstoppable: My Life So Far.

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