There is something disarming about Maria Sharapova, something at odds with her ready smile and glamorous attire. And that something in her lifted her on Monday, 22 August 2005 to the world number one position in women’s tennis.
All this happened in almost no time. However, the rapid ascent in a fiercely competitive world began nine years before with a level of sacrifice few children would be prepared to endure.
Maria Sharapova won the women's singles at Wimbledon in 2004
Little Maria had not yet celebrated her tenth birthday when she was packed off to train in the United States. That trip to Florida with her father Yuri launched her on the path to success and stardom. But, it also required a heart-wrenching two-year separation from her mother, Yelena. The latter was compelled to stay back in Siberia because of visa restrictions.
The nine-year-old girl had already learnt an important lesson in life—that tennis excellence would only come at a price. That toughness runs through Maria even today. It was the key to her bagging the ladies’ singles crown at Wimbledon in 2004 and to her meteoric rise to the world's number one spot the following year.
While her journey from the frozen plains of Siberia to the summit of women’s tennis has touched the hearts of tennis fans, for the youngster herself, there appears to be no room for sentiment. The straight looks and the answers she gives when asked about her ambition make it amply clear that she considers the sacrifices were worth it.
Like any number of teenaged sensations, Maria Sharapova lists fashion, singing, and dancing as her hobbies. She loves reading the novels of Arthur Conan Doyle. Her fondness for sophisticated evening gowns appears at odds with her love of pancakes with chocolate spread and fizzy orange drinks.
Sharapova cannot be pigeon-holed or categorized. 11cr talent, unwavering desire to succeed and readiness to sacrifice have lifted her to the top of the world. Few would grudge her the riches she is now reaping.
Try yourself:Who went to the United States with Maria?
“Reach for the Top” (Part II) briefly narrates the life and career of Maria Sharapova, one of the world’s best-known tennis stars. Maria’s father brought her to the U.S. to be trained in tennis when she was barely nine.
Her mother Yelena could not accompany her due to Visa restrictions. In the U.S., she missed her mother badly but she knew that the sacrifice was an inevitable part of her big aspirations.
Apart from the pangs of separation from the mother, the child also suffered harassment from her inconsiderate fellow trainees, who were older in age. At the training academy, Maria would go to bed at 8 p.m as she was very young. Her fellow trainees would return at 11 p.m. and to bully her, would wake her up and make her tidy the room. Instead of getting frustrated at this treatment, Maria saw its positive side and drew mental strength from this humiliation.
This mental toughness gradually became a trait of her personality that helped her both as a person and as a sportswoman. It proved to be instrumental in helping her to reach the zenith of glory in the world of tennis. She bagged the women’s singles crown at Wimbledon in 2004 and became the number one tennis player in the world.
Hard work, dedication, and mental courage paved the way to success for Sharapova. Imbued with patriotic sentiments, she feels proud to be a Russian. Though grateful to the U.S. for bringing out the best in her, she would like to represent her own country Russia at the Olympics.
Although Maria is fond of fashion, singing, and dancing, she focuses all her attention on tennis. She considers tennis as both a business and a sport, which has poured riches into her life. However, her main aim is to shine as a tennis player. It is this aspiration that constantly governs her mind and motivates her for ceaseless efforts.
Try yourself:Sharapova loved reading novels of
Maria Sharapova was born in Siberia, Russia, in 1987. She led a charge of Russian players who came to achieve great success in the women’s game.
She has brought her own brand of glamour to tennis by designing her own unique tennis outfits.
At the 2007 US Open, she wore a dress with over 600 crystals sewn into it.
She got her first tennis racket when she was four from the father of Grand Slam winner Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
At the age of six, she attended a tennis clinic in Moscow run by Martina Navratilova, who recognized her talent and recommended that she should go to the USA to study at a famous tennis academy in Florida.
Sharapova with her father
She moved to the USA with her father in 1994. Neither of them could speak English. They had very little money and went to the tennis academy by bicycle every day.
She turned professional in 2001 and a year later became the youngest girl ever to reach the junior final at Wimbledon.
She won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon when she was 17. She is one of several top players who are known for loud on-court grunting. She has been the world’s highest-paid sportswoman and the women’s number one several times.
Try yourself:Maria Sharapova belongs to
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