Opinion

Not Just A Pretty Face

Maria Sharapova was born in April 1987 in Nyagan Russia. Her parents Yuri and Yelena were always interested in tennis and at the tender age of four, Maria was given
24 Jan 2016 08:30
Not Just A Pretty Face
In 2000, Maria Sharapova made headlines by winning the girls 16 years and under tennis championship and she was only 13 years old at the time. Having been spotted as a rare talent and also needing to financially help the family, she turned professional at the age of 14.

Maria Sharapova was born in April 1987 in Nyagan Russia.

Her parents Yuri and Yelena were always interested in tennis and at the tender age of four, Maria was given her first tennis lesson. From then on she practiced regularly with her father, sacrificing playing time with her friends and concentrating on developing her game. This practice from such a young age paid dividends as she attended a tennis clinic in Moscow when she was just six. She immediately impressed former world tennis champion, Martina Navratilova.

The advice given to Sharapova’s parents was to send their daughter to Nick Bollettieri’s Tennis Academy in Florida, America. This Tennis Academy had already trained players like Monica Seles. Andre Agassi, Anna Kournikova etc, to become champions of the game.

The only problem Mr and Mrs Sharapova had was raising the money to send their daughter to this exclusive training academy.

Eventually after a huge struggle, the family raised enough money to travel to America in 1994 when Maria was seven years old. Unfortunately due to visa restrictions, Maria’s mother could not join them for another two years.

Mr Sharapova, with daughter in hand, made the lonely journey to America where they had just $700 as their total life savings and unable to speak the English language because Russian was the only language they knew.

Maria’s father took any low paying job available from being a waiter to dishwashing to enable them to fund her tennis lessons.

The struggle was really tough, but Maria’s talent showed through and in 1995 at eight years old, the family finally got a sponsor to pay for her tuition fees for her tennis.

The unwritten rule was that Maria would put 100 per cent effort into her tennis and her father would work all hours of the day to make ends meet. This combination of work and commitment would pay dividends in the near future.

In 2000, Maria made headlines by winning the girls 16 years and under tennis championships and she was only 13 years old at the time.

Having been spotted as a rare talent and also needing to financially help the family, Maria turned professional at the age of 14.

In 2005 at the age of just 18, Sharapova was ranked number one in the world by the W.T.A. (Women’s Tennis Association).

Sharapova had one other ace up her sleeve and that was her marketing ability. At over six feet two inches tall, she had the frame of a professional model and her looks were quite simply stunning.

It is no secret now that Maria has managed to earn more money from her sponsorship and endorsement deals than from her actual tennis earnings.

She is a regular on all the covers of fitness and sports magazines and her modeling assignments never seem to dry up.

She is quite simply a marketing dream.

To put into perspective her earning ability, she has topped the world rankings as the Number One highest paid women athlete in the world every single year since 2006. This will be her tenth year at the top.

She has huge contracts with giant corporations like Motorola, Land Rover, Canon, Tag Heuer, Gatorade, Porsche and the list goes on. In 2010 Maria signed a sponsorship deal with Nike that earned her over $150 million dollars in revenue alone.

I met Maria in 2015 in America at the branding of her venture which is a premium candy called “Sugarpova.” At the launch I could see why she is a marketing magnet. With a body to die for and stunning eastern European looks, she was every inch the supermodel you would expect her to be.

This is truly a rags to riches story and I am sure Maria Sharapova could never have believed as a little Russian girl that she would sit on the throne as the number one highest paid athlete in the world.

Feedback:  ajay@carvingdream.com

 

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