Maria Sharapova was only 17 when she won the 2004 edition of the prestigious Wimbledon tennis tournament. By 2012 she had won all four major tournaments and was one of the sport's global superstars. Maria Sharapova 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 modeling jobs, earning comparisons to Anna Kournikova
for what the British paper The Guardian
called her "much-admired features." Her ads for Nike shoes, Canon cameras and many other sponsors made her a global marketing superstar. Maria 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, giving her five career Grand Slam titles in all. She also won a silver medal in singles at the 2012 Olympics in London (losing to Serena Williams in the finals). By the end of 2015 had piled up 35 professional tournament wins, and the BBC reported she earned over $30 million that year in winnings and endorsements. But in March of 2016, Maria Sharapova announced that she had failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open. She admitted taking meldonium, a heart drug that had recently been banned in tennis because it was also used by athletes to enhance performance. Sharapova said she had been taking it for a decade on the advice of her doctor. She was suspended for two years, although the ban was later reduced to 15 months. She returned to action in 2017, but a series of injuries sapped her ability to play at a top level; she reached only one more Grand Slam quarterfinal in the next three years. She was 32 years old when she announced her retirement from competitive tennis on February 26, 2020.