Maria Yuryevna Sharapova, born April 19, 1987, is a Russian professional tennis player.
She has won 24 Women Tennis Association singles titles, since 1994.
At the age of seven, Sharapova was recommended to join a Florida tennis academy that has trained players like Andre Agassi and Anna Kournikova. Her father, decided to borrow the money that would allow him and his daughter to travel to United States, which they finally did in 1994.
He took various low-paying jobs, including dishwashing, to fund her lessons until she was old enough to be admitted to the academy.
Sharapova made her professional breakthrough in 2004 when, at age 17, she defeated two-time defending champion and top seed Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final for her first Grand Slam singles title.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has ranked Sharapova world number one in singles on four separate occasions.
Sharapova suffered shoulder problems in 2008, and was forced out of the game for 10 months, consequently being number 126 a year later.
Since her comeback, Sharapova has won five singles titles, being ranked at world number two. She is currently ranked number four.
Sharapova’s has also been featured in a number of modeling assignments, advertisements, including those for Nike, Prince and Canon, and is the face of several fashion houses, most notably Cole Haan.
In 2008 and 2010, she was name the highest earning female athlete, with US $26 million and $24.5 million respectively.
She has been a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador since 2005, and was named one of the “30 Legends of Women’s Tennis, Past, Present and Future” by Time.