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Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova
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Maria Yuryevna Sharapova (born 19 April 1987) is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player, currently the second ranked female tennis player in the world, the world's highest-paid female athlete, and a model. Sharapova has won two Grand Slam singles titles. She is the reigning U.S. Open champion, having defeated Justine Henin Hardenne in the final of the 2006 U.S. Open. Two years earlier, she won the singles title at Wimbledon, defeating Serena Williams in the final.
In 2004, a year after an impressive run to the 4th round as a Wild card, Sharapova became the third-youngest Wimbledon women's champion (after Lottie Dod and Martina Hingis) and second-youngest in the open era by defeating Ai Sugiyama (5-7, 7-5, 6-1) in a quarterfinal, Lindsay Davenport (2-6, 7-6, 6-1) in a semifinal, and two-time defending champion Serena Williams (6-1, 6-4) in the final. She also became the first Russian to win that tournament. Defeat then came at the hands of French player and two time Grand Slam champion, Mary Pierce, at the U.S. Open a few months later. Sharapova ended 2004 with a victory at the season-ending WTA Championships, defeating Serena Williams (4-6, 6-2, 6-4) after coming back from an 0-4 final set deficit. After losing to Sharapova in a semifinal of this event, Anastasia Myskina said: "He [Sharapova's father] was just yelling and screaming instructions to her and I thought he just might jump right on the court at one point in the match." From June 2004 until her Wimbledon semifinal appearance in 2005, Sharapova won 22 straight matches on grass, including consecutive Birmingham titles and the Wimbledon title. Sharapova's success continued after winning Wimbledon. On court, she reached the semifinals of the 2005 Australian Open, where she held three match points against Serena Williams before losing 2-6, 7-5, 8-6. Off court, she benefitted financially from numerous commercial endorsements. Defending her Wimbledon title in 2005, Sharapova reached the semifinals without losing a set but then lost to a rejuvenated Venus Williams (7-6, 6-1). Sharapova's streak on grass was ended, as was her quest to dethrone top ranked Davenport.
However, a back injury that Davenport sustained in the Wimbledon final meant that she could not defend the ranking points she obtained during the U.S. hard court season of 2004. Sharapova had fewer points to defend and therefore rose to the No. 1 ranking on August 22, 2005. Her reign, however, lasted only one week as Davenport re-ascended to the top ranking after winning the title in New Haven. Sharapova rose to the No. 1 ranking again on September 12, 2005, despite losing in the semifinals of the U.S. Open. Sharapova kept the No. 1 ranking for six weeks before relinquishing it again to Davenport following the 2005 Zurich Open. Sharapova's loss in a semifinal of the 2005 U.S. Open against Kim Clijsters marked the fourth time that year she had lost at a Grand Slam tournament to the eventual champion: Australian Open-SF-Serena Williams, French Open-QF-Justine Henin Hardenne, Wimbledon-SF-Venus Williams, U.S. Open-SF-Clijsters. At the2006 Australian Open, Sharapova had another successfuly run to the semi-finals, where hse faced Justine Henin-Hardenne. Sharapova started out strongly, taking the first set, but then ran out of gas, and lost the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. The loss broke Sharapova's streak of losing to an eventual champion in a Grand Slam, as Henin-Hardenne went on to lose to Amélie Mauresmo in the final. The match was also the only that Sharapova lost in 2006 after wining the 1st set.
Sharapova, as the third seed, claimed her first title of 2006 at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California (a Tier 1 event). Sharapova defeated No. 4 seed Elena Dementieva in the final 6-1, 6-2. This was the 11th title of her career. Sharapova and Dementieva were the first Russians to reach the final of that event. Soon after, Sharapova reached the final of the Nasdaq-100 Open, losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-3. Sharapova participated at the 2006 French Open without having played any of the clay court tune-ups. After saving three match points in the first round against Mashona Washington, Sharapova was eliminated in the fourth round by Dinara Safina 7-5, 2-6, 7-5, after Sharapova led 5-1 in the third set. Sharapova lost 18 of the match's last 21 points. Sharapova welcomed the onset of the grass season but failed to add a third successive Birmingham title to her collection, losing in the semifinals to American Jamea Jackson.
For the second consecutive year, Sharapova was defeated in the semifinals of Wimbledon, losing to eventual winner Mauresmo 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. Sharapova claimed her second title of 2006 as the second seed at the Acura Classic in San Diego, defeating top seeded Clijsters, 7-5, 7-5. This was Sharapova's first victory over Clijsters in five meetings. Sharapova entered the 2006 U.S. Open seeded third after Clijsters dropped out of the tournament with a wrist injury. Considered one of the favorites to reach the final, she lived up to expectations defeating Mauresmo, the top ranked player in the world, in a semifinal 6-0, 4-6, 6-0. Sharapova then prevailed over Henin Hardenne in the final 6-4, 6-4 to win her second Grand Slam title, 13th tournament of her career, and third tournament of the year. Sharapova won the 2006 Zurich Open, defeating Daniela Hantuchova 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in the final. Sharapova then won the Generali Ladies Linz, defeating fellow Russian and defending champion Nadia Petrova 7-5, 6-2. That was her fifth title of 2006 and the 15th title of her career.

Grand Slam singles finals

Year Championship Position Opponent Score
2004 Wimbledon Champion Serena Williams 6-1, 6-4
2006 U.S. Open Champion Justine Henin-Hardenne 6-4, 6-4

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