Loosening The Grip: A Look Back On Maria Sharapova's Colourful Career
I grew up in a world where sports was dominated by men. And admittedly, it still is in many ways today. But because of a few female athletes who was able to pierce through the male-led profession, more and more girls are encouraged to do the same.
Two days ago, tennis fans across the globe were met with news that admittedly wasn't so shocking: Maria Sharapova is retiring. Sadly, we all saw this one coming. Her glory days were long over and the 32-year-old knows it more than anyone else. From a shoulder injury that kept on hounding her on every match, to a 15-month long ban due to the use of an illegal substance, Sharapova found it hard to continue fighting for a spot in the world of tennis.
But before her career dwindled, Sharapova was once one of the brightest stars in the court.
1/5 Third Youngest Wimbledon Women's Singles Champion
Leaving her home country, Russia, at the tender age of seven to train in Florida opened many doors to the then-amateur tennis player. She was able to train in the prestigious IMG academy at the age of nine, eventually debuting as a professional tennis player at the age of 14. By then, she was able to reach the finals of both 2002 Girls' Singles Australian Open and 2002 Girls' Singles Wimbledon.
Years pass and a couple of tournament wins under her belt, Sharapova entered the 2004 Wimbledon. Currently ranking 13th in the world, Sharapova fought her way through every round, eventually ending up in the finals with defending champion, Serena Williams. Pulling a major upset of two sets to none, Maria Sharapova took home her first-ever grand slam.
2/5 Five Grand Slam Titles
Sharapova's career was a rollercoaster ride to say the least. After winning Wimbledon in 2004, she ventured to other grand slam tournaments and emerged as a runner-up on multiple occasions. But in 2006, the Russian eventually took home her second Grand Slam via the US Open after she defeated the then first and second seed Amélie Mauresmo and Justine Henin in the semis and finals respectively.
Her three other Grand Slams came years apart from each other: the Australian Open in 2008, the French Open in 2012, and the French Open again in 2014.
Both French Opens were arguably Sharapova's biggest feat, for the reason that she used to be at her weakest on the clay at the beginning of her career.
3/5 Ranked First In The World Multiple Times
With five Grand Slams and 36 WTA titles, Sharapova enjoyed the number one spot multiple times—five to be exact. The first was a year after her 2004 Wimbledon win, on August 22 to 28, 2005. During the same year, she had once again become top seed on September 12 to October 23, 2005.
After reaching the final of 2007 Australian Open, she returned as world's number one for seven weeks on 29 January to 18 March 2007, and the following year of 19 May to 8 June 2008. Later that year, Sharapova's career was put to a halt after undergoing a surgery for her persisting rotator cuff injury.
The therapy lasted for a year, and it took a while before she was back to her old self. But the gritty tennis player shocked the world when she won Roland Garros in 2012 and eventually landing back as the world's best on 11 June to 8 July 2012.
4/5 Third Highest-Paid Female Tennis Player Of All Time
For 11 consecutive years, Sharapova was one of the highest-paid athletes earning millions of dollars each year. But because of her injuries and being banned from the sport for 15 months due to testing positive for an illegal substance, her earnings dipped lower each year. In 2019 alone, Sharapova only had 18 matches and fewer partnerships, placing her seventh in the 2019 list.
Despite the downfall of her career, the 6-foot-2 Russian remains the third highest paid female tennis player with 38.8 million USD (according to WTA) behind Serena Williams (92.7 million) and Venus Williams (41.8 million).
5/5 A Winner On And Off The Court
Sharapova wasn't only a star inside the court, she was also a favourite among brands. At the age of 11, she had signed with the powerhouse brand, Nike, and has produced multiple collections since then. Reportedly, she has earned a whopping 70 million USD over the course of their 20-year partnership. She also had deals with Porsche, Evian water, HEAD, and NetJets.
She has also opened up a couple of successful businesses, including Sugarpova candy and Sugargoop that is said to have amassed an estimated revenues of six million and 40 million USD respectively. Overall, her estimated total earnings is at 325 million USD according to Forbes.