Maria Sharapova’s Riveting Memoir: Navigating the Controversial Terrain of Doping

“Doping? I said what needed to be said. But it will not destroy my career and my personality, because I have been through more terrible things,” Sharapova revealed in her autobiography Unstoppable, released a while ago. .

At the age of 17, Sharapova had her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon. Later, she completed the collection on the remaining three sides of the court. Sharapova’s image became unique and unmistakable. She is the representative of 8 global brands and has personally redefined the concept of branding in the marketing industry.

But before being affectionately called “Russian Doll” by fans and earning millions of dollars thanks to lucrative advertising contracts, Sharapova went through a long journey to find life since she was in… mother’s womb.

Sharapova’s autobiography.

Sharapova’s father Yuri is not an average athlete in the football world. Legendary coach Nick Bollettieri once said Yuri was the toughest player he had ever faced in his career.

When he began to receive attention, Yuri faced an uncomfortable truth: He would have to give up tennis. In the fall of 1986, Yuri learned that his wife Yelena was pregnant. They were now settling in Gomel, Belarus – the area affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The example of children being exposed to radiation in the womb has never lost its topicality. Luckily, development is slow, and more serious is congenital deformities and cancer – that is the foreseeable future of fetuses with the same situation as Mr. Yuri’s family.

The couple decided to leave. But land in central Eastern Europe is not for the middle class. Yuri and Yelena’s only option is to go to the frozen oil fields in western Siberia.

Journalist Nicole Prickett wrote: “No courts, no citrus, no fields. There was only snow and gray thanks to it” when looking for Mr. Yuri’s house in Siberia. In the air thick with the scent of loneliness in the Nyagan industrial park, Maria Sharapova was born. April 19, 1987.

Tyumen oil field is the only breadwinner for Yuri and his small family. Working conditions there are extremely harsh, where temperatures can drop to minus 40 degrees Celsius.

To raise Sharapova, Mr. Yuri agreed to “sell blood” in Tyumen for 4 years. Once she had saved a certain amount of money, Yuri was determined to change the quality of life for her daughter, and also for herself: Going to the southern Black Sea resort in Sochi.

Two years ago, Sharapova was involved in a doping suspicion and had to be suspended from competition.

At that time, Yuri could return to practicing tennis as a hobby outside of work. Wherever he went, he took his daughter with him. However, the 4-year-old and 6-month-old girl was bored with watching her father play tennis with her friends. Instead of sitting far away and observing, Sharapova wants to… hold the racket. And taking advantage of her father’s break, Sharapova ran over, put her hand on the racket and hit the ball in a natural reflex.

Coincidentally, there was coach Yuri Yudkin on the field at that time. He couldn’t believe that a girl at that age could have such “round” movements of opening the racket and pushing her shoulders. Yudkin came to ask Yuri to let Sharapova play professional tennis under his protection.

Sharapova could not find a suitable racket due to Soviet-era goods circulation barriers. Eugeny Kafelnikov, Yevgeny’s father – the number 1 tennis player in the world at that time and also Yuri’s friend – decided to sponsor Sharapova with a “genuine” racket.

Until the age of 6, Sharapova practiced diligently with that racket. Racket strings are often damaged or even broken. But it was her only choice. Coach Yudkin affirmed, “This child is a genius, born to be a champion with perfect skills formed from the beginning, very smart and adapts extremely quickly to circumstances.”

Now, a big question arises: Sharapova practices professional tennis… for what? Yudkin can’t train “vegetarian” forever, and Mr. Yuri doesn’t have enough money to spend all his fortune on the tennis court.

Therefore, at the age of 6, Yudkin arranged to take Sharapova to Moscow to participate in an exhibition tournament to make money, but as Sharapova revealed, “I had to hit the ball according to the organizers’ instructions to please the audience. I become an entertainment tool in the hands of others, but this will help me cover my expenses.”

It seems that wherever Sharapova goes, noble people will support her. Legendary Martina Navratilova, owner of 18 Grand Slam titles, saw special ability in Sharapova. She reached out to Yuri and proactively wrote a letter of introduction to Sharapova and her father. Navratilova is introducing Sharapova to Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy in the US, an environment that suits Sharapova’s professional dream.

Yuri started a new journey, leaving his wife behind to take his daughter to America. He took the $1,000 he borrowed from his grandparents (a sum Yuri spent 5 years working to pay off), and went to California to work as a dishwasher and construction worker. That life was repeated for 8 years to pay for her daughter’s expensive tuition fees.

Two years later, Sharapova caught the eye of IMG International Management Group. They decided to cover all tuition and basic living expenses for Sharapova at the tennis academy. But that doesn’t mean a more comfortable life. She had to share a room with her seniors, was often bullied and couldn’t make friends because of the language barrier. And also for another… twisted reason: Sharapova plays tennis so well.

Sharapova often overwhelms older opponents. At the age of 10, she was the U14 champion. No one wants to be close to a genius.

But a problem suddenly appeared. Sharapova got stuck in her forehand. She couldn’t hit the ball very hard, but only dared to swing her hands to make sure the ball went over the net. Bollettieri advised Mr. Yuri to take his daughter to meet Rick Macci – an expert in correcting movements for young athletes. However, Macci’s academy received full investment and IMG – Sharapova’s management unit could not accept that.

During a difficult time, Yuri happened to watch a television program with the participation of Tracy Austin, the world’s number 1 tennis player. Austin accidentally mentioned Robert Lansdorp – the coach who is said to have perfected the right hand of Lindsay Davenport and Pete Sampras.

Sharapova won Wimbledon at the age of 17.

Yuri drove to meet Lansdorp. But the method proposed by this coach startled everyone: Have Sharapova undergo an electrocardiogram. Lansdorp discovered that Sharapova has a rather poor concentration index and that is the reason why she always hesitates before every right hand.

Lansdorp volunteered to welcome Sharapova to her home. For two weeks, they attended psychology lectures together. After that, the two sides came to an agreement: Temporarily stop participating in youth tournaments for 2 years and spend all of their time practicing, refining and developing skills.

“A child full of energy and extraordinary,” Lansdorp commented about Sharapova.

“My dad and I survived, not lived. Overcoming that difficulty means overcoming everything,” Sharapova confided in her autobiography.

Looking back at a journey

After 2 years of “hiding”, Sharapova chose November 2000 as the time to step into the light. At the age of 13, Sharapova won the championship at the U16 Eddie Herr tournament in Florida. At the age of 14 years and 9 months, in January 2002, she made history when she became the youngest player to reach the final of a Grand Slam youth tournament (Australian Open).

In March 2002, the name Maria Sharapova appeared on the WTA rankings at number 535. In the same year, Sharapova continued to finish second in the women’s singles event at Wimbledon. Sharapova finished 2002 ranked 183rd.

In 2003, Sharapova officially moved to the professional ranks full-time. That June, Sharapova entered the world top 100. In July, she entered the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time and finished her first professional season at No. 32 – meaning the final seed in the four Grand Slam tournaments.

In May 2004, when she was about to turn 17 when she broke the buffalo horn, Sharapova was one of the top 20 female tennis players in the world. After a decade of leaving friends, family and homeland behind, Sharapova has taken steady and rapid steps.

At Wimbledon the same year, Sharapova was ranked 13th seed and unexpectedly defeated Serena Williams in the final: Having just reached her first big milestone at a very young age, she had just climbed to No. 4 in the world.

Bollettieri decided to hire an additional fitness coach to work with Sharapova for one hour every day. The physical foundation progressing in a positive direction was the leverage that helped Sharapova quickly reach the top of the world in August 2005. She also collected titles on all four courts in 2006 (US Open), 2008 (Australian Open), 2012 and 2014 (French Open).

“Many people will stop at the top 20. But a few hundred places on the rankings can be shortened, so why can’t we go up 19 places to become number 1 in the world? I dare to dream and am not afraid of failure,” Sharapova told GQ magazine at the book launch.

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