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The Muse

June 28, 2004

Maria Mania

If you haven't heard of Maria Sharapova yet,then you must be deaf. She is the hottest thing to hit tennis since Kournikova, who came with a bang and left with a whimper.Sharapova seems to have her head straight, and she is progressing rapidly in Wimbeldon.

Here are some notes from The Herald:

Sharapova entered the tennis consciousness last summer, when as an 86th-ranked wild card she reached the fourth round of Wimbledon, best performance ever by a wild card. During the next 12 months, she won three tournaments, reached the third round at the Australian Open, the quarterfinals of the French Open and soared in the rankings to No. 15.

Sharapova's success is the byproduct of talent, hard work and a decade of sacrifices by her family.

She was born near an oil refinery in Siberia, and her family moved to the Black Sea resort town of Sochi when she was 2 years old to escape the Chernobyl fallout. At 5, she hit some balls as part of an exhibition in Moscow and was spotted by Martina Navratilova, who told Sharapova's parents, Yuri and Yelena, their daughter had a special gift and could benefit from lessons.

In 1994, with $700 in his pocket, Yuri arrived at Miami International Airport with Maria, and they boarded a bus to Bradenton, where Maria would enroll at Nick Bollettieri's academy. They left behind Yelena, who could not secure a visa. Maria didn't see her mother for two years.


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