A Decade of Smiles: Maria Sharapova, the Russian Doll, Shines Bright

Winning the first title of her career at the age of 16, collecting the entire Grand Slam set or being banned from competition because of meldonium are the highlights of Maria Sharapova’s career.

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Maria Sharapova was born in 1987 in Russia. At the age of 4, she started playing tennis in her hometown of Sochi. Sharapova’s father recognized his daughter’s talent and took her to Florida, USA to study professional tennis. In 2002, at the age of 14 years and 9 months, Sharapova became the youngest player in history to reach the final of the Australian Open youth tournament but lost to Strycova. Two months later, she played her first WTA professional tournament at the Pacific Life Open.
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At Wimbledon 2003, Sharapova received a special ticket to attend for the first time. She reached the fourth round with the highlight of defeating 11th seed Jelena Dokic, her first victory over a player in the top 20. In October, “Masha” won her first career title in Tokyo after overcame Aniko Kapros 2-6, 6-2, 7-6, helping her enter the top 50 in the world for the first time.
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At Wimbledon 2004, the Russian tennis player made a splash when he overcame number 1 seed Serena Williams to win the championship at just 17 years old. Her first Grand Slam title helped her enter the top 10 in the world for the first time. Later that year, Sharapova once again defeated Serena to win the WTA Finals.
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“Russian Doll” burst into joy when she first held the 2006 US Open championship trophy after surpassing the Justine Henin monument. In early 2007, she was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program. After that, the Russian player suffered a shoulder injury and missed most of the clay season for the second year in a row.
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In early 2008, “Masha” marked an impressive return at the Australian Open. She in turn defeated former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, No. 1 seed Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic to win the championship without losing any set.
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Half a season later, Sharapova continued to have bad luck when her shoulder injury recurred. She missed the Beijing Olympics and the US Open. Wimbledon 2009 marked the return of “Masha” but she soon stopped in the second round.
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Wimbledon 2011, Sharapova showed top play, but lost in the final to Petra Kvitova. However, this was her best performance in more than 3 years and ended the year at number 4 in the world.
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In 2012, Sharapova completed her Grand Slam title collection after overcoming Sara Erani in the final of the French Open. She became the 10th female tennis player in history to complete major titles, and returned to world number 1.
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At the 2012 London Olympics, Maria Sharapova became the first female athlete to carry the Russian Sports Union flag in the opening ceremony. She won the women’s singles silver medal after losing to Serena in the final match.
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In 2013, the Russian tennis player once again reached the French Open final but did not successfully defend the championship, losing to Serena. Then she suffered a collarbone injury. However, Sharapova continued to show a strong comeback. She won the French Open for the second time when she defeated Simona Halep in the 2014 final. This was also her last major title.
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“Masha” started 2015 perfectly with the Brisbane championship and then the Australian Open runner-up. Once again, Sharapova received defeat against familiar opponent Serena. The Russian tennis player continues to have bad luck with odd years.
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After the 2016 Australian Open, Sharapova was banned from competing for 2 years because she tested positive for meldonium. However, after Sharapova appealed, her ban was reduced to 15 months.
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Stuttgart 2017 marks the return of “Russian Doll”. She won her first match against Roberta Vinci. In Rome, Sharapova withdrew in the second round after a thigh injury and missed the entire grass court season.
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In 2018, she received a special ticket to attend the tournament in Tianjin. On her first appearance at the tournament, Sharapova won the championship, her first title since 2015.
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At the Australian Open 2020, Sharapova attended with a wild card after falling deep in the rankings. She received defeat in her debut match against Donna Vekic. After this tournament, “Masha” dropped to 373rd place, the lowest since August 2002. On the evening of February 26, “Russian Doll” announced her retirement at the age of 32 after consecutive injuries. She won a total of 36 WTA titles and more than $30 million in prize money.

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