Former tennis player Maria Sharapova is celebrating her 33rd birthday today! To celebrate the tennis superstar’s special day we are sharing some fun facts about her with you.
- Maria is the only child of Yuri and Yelena Sharapova, who were both athletes and enjoy playing tennis. Her cousin Dasha Sharapova is also a tennis player.
- An interesting thing about Maria Sharapova’s name is that her surname is the feminine version of her father’s name, Yuri Sharapov. This is because it is Russian custom that the last letter of all female’s surnames is ‘a’. That’s why Maria’s last name is ‘Sharapova’ instead of ‘Sharapov’.
- Maria’s father is a long-time friend of Aleksandr Kafelnikov (Russian tennis player Yevgeny Kafelnikov’s father). Aleksandr gave Maria her first tennis racquet when she was only four years old.
- At the age of nine, Sharapova won a full scholarship of $46 000 to attend the well-known Bollettieri Tennis Academy.
- Maria Sharapova made her professional debut on her 14th birthday when she played in her first WTA tournament at the Pacific Life Open in 2001, where she won a match before losing to Monica Seles.
- In 2003 Maria Sharapova made her debut appearances at the Australian Open and the French Open, but unfortunately didn’t make it passed the 1st round in either tournament.. That same year she was a wildcard entry at Wimbledon. She reached the 4th round at Wimbledon defeating 11th seed Jelena Dokic – her first win over a top 20 player. Unfortunately she lost in the 4th round to Svetlana Kuznetsova.
- In 2004 17-year-old Maria Sharapova reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon by defeating Ai Sugiyama. In the semi-final she defeated fifth seed and former Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport. In the final, Sharapova upset top seed and defending champion Serena Williams to win her first Grand Slam singles title. By doing so she became the third-youngest woman to win the Wimbledon title, behind Lottie Dod and Martina Hingis.
- Sharapova won an Olympic silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics. In the quarterfinals, she defeated Kim Clijsters to advance to the semifinals, where she faced her compatriot, Maria Kirilenko. Sharapova beat Kirilenko to reach the Olympic final, where unfortunately she lost to Serena Williams.
- Maria Sharapova has 5 grand slam titles to her name. She won the 2008 Australian Open, the 2012 and the 2014 French Open, the 2006 US Open and, as previously mentioned, the 2004 Wimbledon title.
- Like many other tennis players, Maria Sharapova is involved in charity work. Her foundation The Maria Sharapova Foundation is committed to helping children around the world achieve their dreams. Sharapova has donated $100,000 towards Chernobyl-related projects. In partnership with the UNDP, Sharapova launched a $210 000 scholarship program for students from Chernobyl-affected areas of Belarus that will award five-year scholarships to 12 students at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts and the Belarusian State University.
- Sharapova launched her own perfume titled ‘Maria Sharapova’ in 2005.