The Sharapova Story: A tale of grit & determination.
5 Grand Slam Titles, 36 WTA titles, $38.8 million on-court earnings, $325 million in total earnings this is Maria Sharapova's life in numbers. Similar to her career which had glitz and glamour she announced her retirement through two fashion magazines! Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images But, it was not at all easy for Sharapova. Born in Nyagan, Russia (then USSR), Maria started playing the game at the age of 4! In 1993 an encounter with Martina Navratilova changed the course of her career. Martina advised her father to send Sharapova IMG Academy in Florida. Her parents decided to take the gamble and decided to move to the US, with $700 in pocket Sharpova’s father left Russia. In the following year, she was signed by IMG who agreed to pay her tuition fee of $35000. It was all upwards to Maria from then, she signed a deal with Nike at the age of 11! Not until 2004 the world will see the Russian in action when she managed to create an upset by Beating Serena Williams in Wimbledon final, that was only one of the 2 times she overpowered Serena in over 22 meetings. She clinched the #1 spot in 2005 and became the first Russian women to do so and in 2006 she topped the Forbes list of highest-paid female athletes, she topped the list for 10 consecutive years. Meanwhile, she launched her own venture “Sugarpova” candy. She stood as the epitome for Beauty with power and brains as well! She won her final grand slam in 2012 at Roland Garros. Even though she was mostly raised and trained in the US she showed utmost loyalty to her motherland. She was also the flag bearer for Russia in 2012 Olympics and became the first Russian woman to do that, she ended that Olympics with a silver medal to her name. As every high follows a low, Sharpova’s too hit her low when she made an announcement in 2016 that she was tested positive for the usage of Meldonium which legal until January of that year! She was banned for 4 years which was turned into 2 years and then into 15 months as she fought Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) proving that she was not an “intentional doper” Since her return she was not able to break into top 20, failing in grand slams and her recurring shoulder injury took a toll on her body. She was still stubborn to go the distance and give it all for the sport she loved. But, now it was beyond the 32-year-old, she mentioned the feeling of not able to handle the daily grind hit her in the last years US Open where she was quoted saying “ Just stepping onto the court that day felt like a final victory when of course it should have been merely first step towards victory”. Maria has seen it all poverty to riches, #1 to #373, pride to despair, there are ifs and buts every time what if she was not plagued with injuries or what if that ban didn’t happen? But those are ifs and buts, she leaves behind a legacy of grit, strength and determination. One that is not short of a miracle! Happy retirement Maria!