Under the Miami sun, Astra Sharma celebrated earning a master’s degree -- the first for the partnership between the WTA and University of Florida.

The College of Health & Human Performance (UFHHP) and College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) joined a partnership with the WTA and the Women’s Tennis Benefit Association (WTBA) in 2019. Its goal: provide WTA players a chance to pursue a graduate or master’s level education while playing their sport across the world. Under the partnership, the WTBA subsidizes in-state tuition fees for WTA members who enroll in online master’s degrees.

Sharma, the current No. 96-ranked singles player, earned a Master of Science in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology with a concentration in human performance this fall.

"Thanks to the WTA and University of Florida for providing this opportunity to earn my master's degree,” Sharma said. “While professional tennis is demanding, it remains important for me to continue to better myself in all areas of my life. I am profoundly grateful to UF for this journey of learning and growth.”

Photo by UF

Sharma is the first of many professional tennis players and members expected to accomplish both an education and a career in this partnership.

“We hope to see more players and members benefit from this educational partnership with our online graduate programs, as we also benefit from the experience and perspective these players and members bring to our programs,” said Christopher Janelle, Ph.D., associate dean for academic and student affairs.

“The University of Florida’s College of Health and Human Performance has been a key partner in educating WTA players since 2019 through their degree and certificate programs,” said Lisa Grattan, executive director of the Women’s Tennis Benefit Association. “We are proud to congratulate Astra for becoming the first WTA player to earn her master’s degree through this important partnership.”

Through the partnership, WTA players and members can enroll in any of the eight online master’s programs and four graduate certificate programs offered by UFCJC and four online master’s programs offered by UFHHP.