Maria Sharapova

Tennis Player

Born: 19 April 1987
Birthplace: Nyagan, Russia
Best known as: The tall blonde tennis ace who won Wimbledon at age 17

Maria Sharapova was only 17 when she won the prestigious Wimbledon tennis tournament in 2004, and by 2012 she had won all four major tournaments and was one of the sport's global superstars. Maria Sharapova first turned pro in 2001 at the young age of 14. She and her father had moved from Russia to Florida when she was nine so that Sharapova could study at the tennis academy of Nick Bollettieri. Powerful, blonde and eventually over six feet tall, Sharapova steadily worked her way up through the pro ranks, claiming her first WTA victory at the 2003 AIG Japan Open. Meanwhile she took occasional modelling jobs, earning comparisons to Anna Kournikova for what the British paper The Guardian called her "much-admired features." Her ads for Nike, Canon cameras and many other sponsors made her a global marketing superstar. Sharapova stunned the tennis world by defeating defending champion Serena Williams in the singles finals at Wimbledon in 2004. She won her second and third majors by beating Justine Henin-Hardenne at the 2006 U.S. Open and Ana Ivanovic at the 2008 Australian Open. She completed the "career slam" by beating Sara Errani of Italy to win the French Open in 2012. She won the French Open again in 2014, defeating Simona Halep of Romania in three sets.

Extra credit:

Maria Sharapova is 6’2″ tall, according to her profile from the WTA Tour… Her name is pronounced shah-ra-POH-vuh… Nyagan is part of Siberia, hence her rather awkward nickname of “the Siberian Siren”… She also has been called “the Queen of Screams” for her habit of grunting loudly while hitting the ball. The Evening Standard claimed to have measured Sharapova’s vocalizations at Wimbledon in 2004, and reported that “At its worst, her grunting hit 86.3 decibels – the same as standing beside a high-revving motorcycle, or the screech from a gibbon in the zoo”… Also according to the WTA Tour website, Maria Sharapova “enjoys reading books in the Sherlock Holmes and Pippi Longstocking series.”

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