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Name: Maria Sharapova
DOB: 19 April 1987
Birth Place: Nyagan, Russia
Claim to fame: Tennis ace
- Maria’s famous on-court ‘grunting’ reached 101 decibels during a 2005 Wimbledon match
- She prefers playing on grass and once described herself as like a "cow on ice" after a match on clay
- Maria takes hip-hop dance classes
- She is 6’ 2” tall
One of the few women on the planet who can claim to have beaten both Williams sisters on the tennis court, former world number one Maria was born in Nyagan, Russia. She began playing tennis at the age of just four. At the recommendation of a Moscow tennis coach, Maria and her dad moved to Florida in 1994 so she could train at the renowned Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. Neither of them could speak English at the time and Maria’s dad had to borrow the money to get them there.
Signed to a leading sports agency at the age of 9, Maria began to attract attention for her natural tennis talent. She made her professional debut in 2001 and became the youngest girl ever to reach the final of the Australian Open Junior Championship at just 14 years old.
Famous for her on-court ‘grunting’, Maria developed into an aggressive player and has since won 23 Women’s Tennis Association singles titles, including Wimbledon 2004, the US Open 2006 and the Australian Open 2008. She has been ranked world number one four times, the last time being in 2008, and was the world’s highest-paid sportswoman in 2008 and 2010.
Now ranked world number five, Maria still plays professionally while modelling too. In 2010 she signed an eight-year Nike deal, and her Amazonian looks have earned her an appearance in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. But sorry lads, Maria got engaged to LA Lakers star Sasha Vujacic in 2010.