Maria Sharapova was born on April 19, in Nyagan, in the Siberian region of Russia, coincidentally on the same day the Soviet Union carries out an underground nuclear test.
Biography and Career :
1989 - Yuri Sharapov and his wife Yelena, together with young Maria Sharapova, move to the Black Sea resort of Sochi on the "Russian Riviera" - drawn by the prospect of palm trees and 200 days of sunshine a year
1991 - A four-year-old Maria Sharapova picks up a racket and starts playing tennis.
1992 - While playing in an exhibition tournament in Moscow the five-year-old Maria Sharapova is spotted by tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who recommends Nick Bollettieri's tennis academy in the United States.
1995 - Maria Sharapova and her father travel to Miami and arrive, uninvit
ed, at Bollettieri's academy in Bradenton, Florida. One of Bollettieri's coaches agrees to take Maria Sharapova on court and with her first stroke she knocks his hat off. "Then I hit a few balls and he called Nick right away," she said.
1996 - The nine-year-old begins a two-year separation from her mother - the result of visa restrictions and the family's financial situation - as she starts intensive training at the Bollettieri academy.
"When I came to the United States it wasn't easy for me," said Maria Sharapova. "I didn't see my mum for two years and I barely saw my dad for one year. I was living in a dormitory by myself and sacrificed a lot of things."
2001 -Maria Sharapova turns professional on her 14th birthday. Off court Maria Sharapova develops interests in fashion, reading, dancing, stamp-collecting and movies - her favourite is Pearl Harbor.
2002 - Maria Sharapova reaches the final of the junior event at the Australian Open and in March enters the WTA world rankings at No 532. Her talent, though, has already been noticed and she appears in a magazine list as one of 20 teenagers who will change the world and one of the 21 athletes to star in the 21st century. Maria Sharapova ends the year ranked at No186.
2003 - In the year she was voted one of the "coolest girls" in America,Maria Sharapova rapidly rises up the rankings. She makes her grand slam debut in the Australian Open and also qualifies for the French Open. Then, after reaching the semi-finals at Edgbaston, she progresses to the fourth round at Wimbledon, the best-ever performance by a female wild card. Maria Sharapova wins her first titles on the WTA tour - in Japan and Quebec - and ends the year ranked 32.
"My drive and determination comes from my Russian blood," says the 16-year-old, now attracting attention for her glamour as well as her game. However, despite her fashion photo-shoots she rejects any comparison with another Russian, Anna Kournikova.
2004 - Coached by her father and Robert Lansdorp, who has also worked with Pete Sampras and Lindsay Davenport,Maria Sharapova goes from strength to strength, reaching the third round of the Australian Open before losing to another Russian, Anastasia Myskina.
In March she plays Serena Williams for the first time, losing 6-4, 6-3 in Miami. A month later she breaks into the world's top 20 and the 6ft 17-year-old maintains her momentum by reaching the French Open quarter-finals, losing to Paola Sui¡rez 6-1, 6-3.
The setback is only temporary as she embarks on a run of 11 consecutive victories on grass, racing to the Edgbaston title - she beat the 16-year-old Tatiana Golovin of France in the final - and then, world ranked 15 and seeded 13, reaching the Wimbledon final.
As she faces up to Serena Williams today, Sharapova has already won Â£300,000 from her playing career. If she triumphs today that figure will be close to her first million. It is unlikely to be her last.
Maria Sharapova Image : kamafix.republika.pl
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