The 29-year-old is poised to return from her 18-month doping ban.
By Tony Mogan
Maria Sharapova has been one of the most high-profile names in tennis over the last decade. But the five-time grand slam winner has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons over the last 15 months after she was handed a doping ban that has sidelined her for 18 months.
Who is Maria Sharapova?
Key facts about Maria Sharapova
Full-name: Maria Yuryevna Sharapova
Date of birth: 19 April 1987
Birthplace: Nyagan, Russia
Net worth: $195m
Height: 6ft 2in (188cm)
Career titles: 35 WTA titles
Grand slams: Australian Open (2008,) French Open (2012 and 2014), Wimbeldon 2004 and US Open 2006
Facebook: Maria Sharapova
Born in Nyagan, Russia, Sharapova left her homeland with her father to move to Florida, where she enrolled in the Nick Bollettieri tennis academy at the age of nine. Winning the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championship in the girls’ 16 division at just 13 highlighted her spectacular promise, before turning professional on her 14th birthday.
By 2003, she had cracked the top 50, the same year she claimed her first WTA title at the Japan Open. With her star firmly on the rise, she reached the fourth round in her very first Wimbledon that year, returning a year later to win her first grand slam and become the first female Russian champion at SW19.
She would rise to No 1 and over the coming years would become one of the most marketable faces in sport and the cover girl of tennis. But in 2016, she revealed she had tested positive for the prohibited substance, meldonium, a ban which had come into effect on 26 January 2016 — the date of her first positive test. She received a two-year suspension from the International Tennis Federation but the fallen superstar of women’s tennis was insistent she did not intentionally violate anti-doping rules.
Sharapova appealed on the grounds she had been taking meldonium since 2006 to treat a heart condition and was unaware it had been added to the banned substance list.
Her ban was later reduced to 15 months after she took her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. She is poised to return to tennis on 26 April after the former world No 1 was granted a wildcard entry to Stuttgart’s Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
- Turned professional on her 14th birthday in 2001.
- Won her first grand slam title in 2004, becoming the first Russian woman to win Wimbledon.
- In August 2005 she became world No 1 for the first time.
- Won her second grand slam title in 2006, defeating Justine Henin in straight sets at the US Open.
- Won the 2008 Australian Open, defeating Ana Ivanovic in straight sets, but would miss most of that season with a shoulder injury.
- Returned to the WTA top 10 for the first time in three years in 2011, losing in the French Open semis and Wimbledon final.
- Won the French Open in 2012, her first major in four years, with a straight sets win over Sara Errani. That win saw her become just the sixth woman in the Open era to complete a career grand slam.
- Won her fifth major in May 2013 at the French Open, defeating Simona Halep in the final.
- Has won a total of 35 WTA titles, reaching 58 singles finals in total.
- Won silver for Russia at the London 2012 Olympics after losing to rival Serena Williams in the final.
What is Maria Sharapova’s net worth?
Sharapova’s net worth was estimated at $195m in 2016, according to The Richest. She has retained hugely-lucrative sponsorships deals with Nike, tennis racket manufacturer Head, bottled water company Evian and Porsche despite her recent ban.
What is Maria Sharapova’s ranking?
Sharapova’s ranking is currently suspended until 24 April this year. She was ranked 93rd before she was effectively removed from the list, due to WTA regulations that state a player should take part in at least three tournaments and accumulate a minimum of 10 ranking points in the previous 52 weeks.
When is Maria Sharapova coming back?
Sharapova has been given a wild card for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart next month.
When is Maria Sharapova’s next match?
Her ban ends on the 24 April but her wildcard for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and her wild card entry means she will return to action on 26 April.
Is Maria Sharapova married?
Sharapova is not married. The Russian previously dated Bulgarian tennis star Grigor Dimitrov for two years but the pair confirmed their split in 2015.