No.1 Spotlight: Maria Sharapova
Published June 24, 2013 12:00
Earmarked for greatness from a young age, it did not take Maria Sharapova long to start delivering on her youthful promise. At the tender age of 17, Sharapova stunned the tennis world, defeating overwhelming favorite Serena Williams to lift the 2004 Wimbledon title.
Nearly a decade on, the Russian is still going strong. And worryingly, for the rest of the WTA, judging by her recent exploits, she seems to be getting better with age.
After overcoming career-threatening shoulder surgery, Sharapova ended a two-year Top 10 exile in 2011 thanks to deep runs at both the French Open and Wimbledon. The following year, she defied the odds to complete her set of majors in Paris and return to the top of the rankings for the fourth time in her career.
• Winner of four Grand Slam titles: 2004 Wimbledon, where as 17-year-old became fourth-youngest Grand Slam champion in Open Era; 2006 US Open; 2008 Australian Open; and 2012 Roland Garros, where she became the sixth player in the Open Era to complete the career Grand Slam
• Also among her 29 WTA titles was a triumph at the 2004 WTA Championships
• On August 22, 2005, became first Russian to reach No.1 and fifth-youngest player ever at 18 years, 4 months
• Silver medalist at 2012 London Olympics, where she also was flag bearer for Russia at opening ceremony
• Has won at least one title each year since 2003 (11 straight years), tied for the fourth best streak in WTA history
• Her more than $26 million in career prize money is the third most in WTA history
• Her $6,508,296 won in 2012 was the fourth best prize money season in WTA history
• Is the world's highest-paid female athlete
• Won WTA's Most Impressive Newcomer Award in 2003
• Won WTA's Most Improved Player Of The Year Award and Player Of The Year Award in 2004
• Won WTA's Fan Favorite Singles Player Of The Year Award in 2010
• With more than 8.8 million fans, is the most followed female athlete on facebook
• Appointed UNDP Goodwill ambassador in 2007