SOCHI, Russia - Maria Sharapova, a silver medalist herself at the Summer Olympics last year, will join NBC Olympics for its Winter Olympics coverage in Sochi next year, it was announced Wednesday.
Sharapova, who was the flag bearer for her native Russia at the Opening Ceremony in London last year, will serve as a correspondent, offering insight and commentary on Russia's first Winter Olympics.
"Maria transcends sports as one of the world's most recognizable stars," Jim Bell, Executive Producer of NBC Olympics, said. "Growing up in Sochi until she was six years old and with family and friends still living in the area, Maria will offer a unique and personal perspective on a place she knows so well."
Sharapova isn't just one of the WTA's very best players right now, she is one of its all-time legends. With victories at all four Grand Slams - Wimbledon in 2004, the US Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008 and the French Open in 2012 - she is one of only six women in the Open Era to have a Career Grand Slam, and one of only 10 all-time. She has also held World No.1 for 21 weeks in her career.
And in 2013, despite only playing one match in the second half of the year due to injury, Sharapova finished at No.4 on the November 4 year-end rankings - the sixth time in her career she has finished a year in the Top 4 (No.4 in 2004, No.4 in 2005, No.2 in 2006, No.4 in 2011, No.2 in 2012, No.4 in 2013).
This will be the 22nd edition of the Winter Olympics and it will run from February 6 to 23 next year.
Sharapova was actually an ambassador for the Sochi bid, promoting it across the globe, from LA to London - which brings us to the below picture, which shows Sharapova hitting with local schoolkids with London's Tower Bridge in the background on June 21, 2007. Sochi won the bid on July 4, 2007.