Maria Yuryevna Sharapova born April 19, 1987) is a Russian professional tennis player. As of June 11, 2012 she is ranked world no. 1. A United States resident since 1994, Sharapova has won 27 WTA singles titles, including four Grand Slam singles titles. She has also won the year-end WTA Tour Championships in 2004. The Women's Tennis Association has ranked Sharapova World No. 1 in singles on five separate occasions. She became the world no. 1 for the first time on August 22, 2005, and regained the ranking for the fifth time on June 11, 2012. She has been in seven Grand Slam finals with a record of 4–3.
Sharapova made her professional breakthrough in 2004 at age 17, when she defeated two-time defending champion and top seed Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final for her first Grand Slam singles title. She entered the top 10 of the WTA Rankings with the win. She subsequently won major titles at the 2006 US Open and 2008 Australian Open, before being forced out of the game for ten months by a recurring shoulder injury, which ultimately required surgery in October 2008. Sharapova returned in May 2009, ranked no. 126 in the world due to her extensive lay-off. Since her comeback, Sharapova has won eight singles titles (bringing her career total to 27), including her fourth grand slam title at the 2012 French Open, completing a career grand slam, and has also returned to the no. 1 ranking.
Sharapova has been featured in a number of modeling assignments, including a feature in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She has been featured in many advertisements, including for Nike, Prince and Canon, and is the face of several fashion houses, most notably Cole Haan. Sharapova was the most searched-for athlete on Yahoo! in 2005 and 2008. Since February 2007, she has been a United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador, concerned specifically with the Chernobyl Recovery and Development Programme. In June 2011, she was named one of the "30 Legends of Women's Tennis: Past, Present and Future" by Time, and in March 2012 was named one of the "100 Greatest of All Time" by Tennis Channel.
Sharapova has lived in the United States since moving there at the age of seven. She has a residence in Manhattan Beach, California and in Netanya, Israel. Sharapova is engaged to Slovenian professional basketball player Sasha Vujačić, who plays for the Anadolu Efes S.K. in Istanbul, Turkey. The two have been dating since 2009. In 2011, Sharapova was named in Forbes Celebrity 100. This lists her as one of the top 100 most powerful celebrities of the year. Sharapova has made varying remarks on how long she intends to maintain her tennis career. Following the retirement of 25-year-old Justine Henin in 2008, Sharapova said, "If I was 25 and I'd won so many Grand Slams, I'd quit too." In an interview after the 2008 Australian Open, she balked at the idea of playing for another ten years, saying that she hoped to have a "nice husband and a few kids" by then. However in an interview before her 2012 Australian Open semifinal, Sharapova changed her stance, saying she intended to continue playing tennis for as long as she enjoyed playing the game. Sharapova stated "I'm sure when I was 17 years old and someone said, you'll be playing for another eight years, it would be like, you're not going to see me at a press conference at 25 years old. But years go on. I missed a year in my career—I didn't play that year. I've said this, just before the tournament, a few weeks before, I woke up and I was just so happy to be going back on the court. I felt so fresh, full of energy, just with a really good perspective. Times change, obviously. I see myself playing this sport for many more years because it's something that gives me the most pleasure in my life. I think it helps when you know you're good at something, and you can always improve it. It obviously helps with the encouragement."
At the 2004 US Open, Sharapova, along with several other Russian female tennis players, wore a black ribbon in observance of the tragedy after the Beslan school hostage crisis, which took place only days before. In 2005, she donated around US$50,000 to those affected by the crisis. On February 14, 2007, Sharapova was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and donated US$210,000 to UNDP Chernobyl-recovery projects. She stated at the time that she was planning to travel back to the area after Wimbledon in 2008, though it didn't happen, as she had to travel back to the US because of shoulder injury. She fulfilled the trip in late June – early July 2010. Sharapova has helped to promote the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In addition, with Angela Haynes, Maria Kirilenko, Nicole Vaidišová, Rennae Stubbs, Governor Jeb Bush and Jennifer Capriati, Sharapova participated in an exhibition in Tampa in December 2004, raising money for the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund. In July 2008, Sharapova sent a message on DVD to the memorial service of Emily Bailes, who had performed the coin toss ahead of the 2004 Wimbledon final that Sharapova had gone on to win.
Sharapova's tennis success and appearance have enabled her to secure commercial endorsements that greatly exceed the value of her tournament winnings. In March 2006, Forbes magazine listed her as the highest-paid female athlete in the world, with annual earnings of over US $18 million, the majority of which was from endorsements and sponsorships. She has topped that list every year since, even after her 2007 shoulder injury. In April 2005, People named her one of the 50 most beautiful celebrities in the world. In 2006, Maxim ranked Sharapova the hottest athlete in the world for the fourth consecutive year. She posed in a six-page bikini photoshoot spread in the 2006 Valentine's Day issue of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, alongside 25 supermodels. In a poll run by Britain's FHM magazine, she was voted the seventh most eligible bachelorette, based on both "wealth and looks."
Immediately after her win at the 2004 Wimbledon Championship, mobile phone company Motorola signed Sharapova to endorse their mobile phone line. Additionally, she appeared in commercials for Land Rover and Canon, as well as approved of namesake items by watch brand Tag Heuer and jeweller Tiffany. Tiffany also provides Sharapova with earrings from the "Tiffany for Maria Sharapova" collection at the four major events, that are also retailed globally. She also starred in an award winning campaign for the sports clothing brand Nike, "Pretty", in the summer of 2006. She signed a sponsorship deal in January 2007 with Gatorade and Tropicana. In 2007, Sharapova was featured in a number of Canon USA's commercials for the PowerShot. Sharapova has also been depicted in many tennis-related video games. Some of the titles include the Top Spin series, Virtua Tennis series, and Grand Slam Tennis series. During the layoff due to her shoulder surgery, sensing the fleeting nature of a professional athlete's career, Sharapova decided to focus on developing her name as a brand, beginning with meeting with her sponsors more extensively to further her brand. In January 2010, it was announced that Sharapova had renewed her contract with Nike, signing an 8 year deal for $70 million. This is the most lucrative deal ever for a sportswoman, dwarfing the previous record, which was Venus Williams' $43 million deal with Reebok.
Following in the footsteps of tennis players who started clothing lines such as Fred Perry and René Lacoste, Sharapova launched her own tennis apparel line, the "Nike Maria Sharapova Collection", in 2010. The collection includes dresses that she designed for all the major tournaments, in collaboration with Nike and Cole Haan. She had previously found that the outfits given to her by Nike did not suit her frame and were worn by too many other players. She comes up with design ideas and sketches in a process that begins 18 months before the event and receives royalties from the sale of the collection, of which the corresponding dresses are coordinated to be available simultaneously with the corresponding major tournament. The collection is worn by other WTA players, including Sofia Arvidsson, Kai-Chen Chang, Andrea Hlavackova, Madison Keys, Anastasia Pivovarova as well as junior players such as Indy De Vroome. Sharapova had earlier collaborated with Nike on the "little black dress" that she wore for her night matches at the 2006 US Open. The dress featured a round crystal studded collar and was inspired by Audrey Hepburn. The dress was well publicized and received but was not mass produced. Additionally, she designs shoes and handbags for Cole Haan, for which her signature ballerina flats are one of the biggest sellers of the entire brand.
Sharapova used the Prince Triple Threat Hornet for part of 2003 and then used several different Prince racquets until the US Open. She gave the racquet she used in the 2004 Wimbledon final to Regis Philbin when taping Live with Regis and Kelly. Sharapova began using the Prince Shark OS at that tournament and had a major part in the production of the Shark racquet. She then switched to the Prince O3 White racquet in January 2006. She switched to the Prince O3 Speedport Black in July 2008. After being with Prince for ten years, Sharapova began endorsing Head racquets in 2011 and uses the Head YOUTEK IG Instinct.
In 2011, Forbes listed Sharapova as no. 29 in their list of 50 top-paid athletes, the only woman on the list. In 2012, she was listed as no. 15, and was joined in the top 20 by Li Na at no. 16 and Serena Williams at no. 17.