Maria Sharapova was knocked out of the Mutua Madrid Masters in the second round after losing a pretty exciting game to 2014 Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard.
Bouchard, who had previously called the Russian a “cheater,” won in three sets to advance to the third round where she will play against top seed Angelique Kerber who survived a scare against rising star Katerina Siniakova in the second round.
Sharapova returned to tennis after a 15-month ban for testing positive for meldonium, a substance that had been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Her comeback tournament was the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart where she reached the semi-finals before being defeated by Kristina Mladenovic.
As a result, Sharapova’s ranking went up to 262. She will next compete at the Rome Masters as a wildcard contestant.From being a Wimbledon Champion at the age of 17 to being one of the highest earning female athletes in the world, Sharapova has had a lot of success, both professionally and commercially.
However, there are many facts about the Russian tennis diva which the general public may not be familiar with. Here are 10 such facts.
#10. Sharapova’s love for London
Being a sportsperson, Sharapova has travelled all around world throughout her extensive career and she is bound to have a soft spot for many places. One of those cities is London which the Siberian Siren cites as one of her favorite cities.Sharapova has shown a lot of endearment towards Londoners and has stated that she finds the British accent to be “sexy”. As a matter of fact, Sharapova gained international stardom in London by winning the Wimbledon in 2004 at the age of 17
#9. Sharapova’s talent was first spotted by Martina Navratilova
The Russian’s talent was first spotted by another ova and not any other ova, one of the greatest of them all, Martina Navratilova. When Sharapova was just six years old, she attended a tennis clinic in Moscow which was run by Navratilova.
After watching Sharapova play, she told Sharapova’s father, Yuri Sharapov that his daughter was specially gifted and suggested that she receive professional training at the IMG Academy in Florida which had produced several tennis greats such as Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Monica Seles, Jim Courier, etc.Sharapova would eventually be enrolled in the Academy three years later, receiving a full-time scholarship.
#8. Sharapova and her father emigrated to Miami to pursue her tennis potential
With Navratilova suggesting that Sharapova receive professional training at the IMG Academy, Sharapova and her father, neither of whom spoke English at the time, moved to Miami in 1994 so that Sharapova could have received better training in the sport.
Back then, the two only had $700 which they had borrowed from Sharapova’s grandparents. Sharapova’s father, Yuri took to doing many odd-jobs like washing dishes to fund Sharapova’s training till she was old enough to join the Academy.
Yuri also coached Sharapova on public courts himself. Sharapova joined IMG in 1995 who agreed to pay the annual tuition fee of $35,000. During her first two years in the United States, Sharapova was without her mother who was denied a visa before finally being granted one in June, 1996.
#7. She was the most searched Athlete on Yahoo in 2005 and 2008
When you attain a massive amount of success at an age so young as 17, you are bound to have a huge internet following. Sharapova took the world by storm by winning the Wimbledon title in 2004 and reached the top of the WTA rankings in 2005 which made her the first Russian female tennis player to be ranked No.1.The Russian was the most searched athlete on Yahoo that year along with two other tennis players who made the top 10. They were Anna Kournikova (No.2) and Serena Williams (No.6).
Sharapova would become the most searched athlete on Yahoo once again in 2008 where she was the only tennis player- male or female, to be included in the Top 10.
#6. She is a UN goodwill brand ambassador
Sharapova has been a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme since 14th February, 2007. Since her appointment as a Goodwill Brand Ambassador, Sharapova has frequently donated to Chernobyl-related projects, having donated $210,000 to the UNDP Chernobyl-recovery project and $100,000 to other Chernobyl-related projects.
The reason the tennis diva has such a soft spot for Chernobyl is because her parents’ homeland was Gomel which was just 132 kilometers away from Chernobyl where one of the world’s biggest nuclear disasters occurred in 1986. Fearing the after-effects of the disaster, Sharapova’s parents fled Gomel and moved to Nyagan, Western Siberia.
#5. Sharapova is a huge fan of architecture and music
When a sportsperson is off the ground, he/she is bound to have some leisure activities. Sharapova’s include architecture, modern art, and music. In an interview with The Age newspaper in 2015, Sharapova admitted that she is a huge fan of art and architecture, stating British Tracy Emin to be among her favorite artists.
As a matter of fact, Sharapova’s beach house at Manhattan is a private gallery..Sharapova is also an avid fan of music, stating that she enjoys listening to songs sung by renowned singer and Academy Award winning actress Cher. Sharapova is also a huge fan of Russian folk music and dance.
#4. Sharapova dreams of being a bond girl
Maria Sharapova is a huge fan of James Bond movies and aspires to play a Bond girl someday, feeling that she is an ideal partner to current 007 Daniel Craig. The reason Sharapova aspires to be a Bond girl is because it involves one of her self-proclaimed favorite hobbies i.e. spying.
Sharapova has endorsed several brands including Nike, Motorola, Canon, etc. Sharapova is a model off the court and has done several modelling projects including appearing in the 2006 Valentine’s Day issue of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
There is no doubt that Sharapova will pursue a career in modelling once she retires and there is a very good chance that she may join the likes of Ursula Andress, Honor Blackman, Eva Green, and Halle Berry as one of the sexiest Bond girls ever if she appears in a 007 movie.
#3. Sharapova is a huge fan of Sherlock…. but not exactly what you think
Sharapova has stated that she is very fond of spying which is amongst her favorite hobbies. So it is no surprise that she is a huge fan of spy fiction.
The Russian has stated that she is a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes but it is neither the series starring Benedict Cumberbatch nor the movie starring Robert Downey Jr., it is the original Sherlock Holmes i.e. the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
#2. Sharapova’s dream tennis partners are not actually tennis players
A very common question asked to tennis players (singles specialists) in interviews and press conferences is who would they want as their partner if they were to play doubles tennis. Interestingly, only one of Sharapova’s choices is a sportsman and that is one of football’s biggest names- Cristiano Ronaldo.
Another of Sharapova’s choices include British Royalty Prince William but what about her dream doubles partner? The answer will make your jaws drop because it is none other than Russian president Vladimir Putin.
#1. Sharapova’s name is not pronounced the way people pronounce it!
The surname Sharapova is a pretty stylish one and pronouncing it just elevates its elegance. Over the years, Sharapova’s name has been pronounced as shuh-ruh-poh-vuh by commentators, fellow tennis stars, and the general public.However, the actual pronunciation of the name is a bit different from the way people pronounce it.
Sharapova herself stated that the actual pronunciation of her name is sharr-AA-puh-vuh (arr as in marry and “aa” as in father (stress on the second syllable)).
However, the pronunciation shuh-ruh-poh-vuh has become so popular that the tennis diva herself accepts this pronunciation more than the original one.