Maria Sharapova is the five-time winner of the Grand Slam and is an Olympic silver medalist in Tennis (2012 London). She is a tennis queen, holding the world #1 ranking in the sport for 21 weeks and named by Forbes as the highest paid female athlete of all time in 2005, for a record-breaking 11 years. Her autobiography is called Unstoppable: My Life so Far.
She was born April 19, 1987 in Nyagan, Russia and hit her first tennis ball at 4 years old. After showing intense promise at such a young age and with the encouragement of Martina Navratilova, the family moved to the USA to give Sharapova the opportunity to train at the Nick Bollettieri’s prestigious tennis academy in Florida where kids hit tennis balls all day long.
She is only one of ten women and the only Russian to hold the career Grand Slam. Her talent has been compared to the likes of Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, and Chris Evert. If you don’t know anything about tennis like us, just know, that’s a biiiiiggggg deal. She came to the USA with just $700 to her (and her father’s) name and has earned more than $38M in prize money from her tennis career.
Outside of tennis she has a number of brand deals with companies like Nike, Prince, Avon, etc. bringing her earnings to the hundreds of millions and is an activist for the development and recovery of Chernobyl with the United Nations Development Programme.
Sharapova’s Net Worth
Her net worth is estimated to be $135-195 million, putting her at the top off-the-court female earning athletes for 11 straight years despite her temporary suspension from the game (DW we’ll address this).
The Doping Scandal
But stars have failures and Sharapova’s was in 2016 with the failure of her drug test at the 2016 Australian Open, testing positive for meldonium suspending her participation in the sport for two years by the International Tennis Federation. The two year sentence was reduced to fifteen months on the claim that she had taken the substance on the recommendation of a doctor with good faith.
Meldonium is manufactured in Latvia, and is commonly used in Russia and Eastern Europe for the treatment of heart conditions but is not approved by the FDA in the USA. She had been taking the OTC drug for a number of years and it was recommended by her doctor to address her magnesium deficiency, irregular EKGs and a history of diabetes in her family. It was only after the rules reclassified the drug as banned, she was suspended for doping. “Although I’m at a stage or age in my career where you’re closer to the end than your beginning, you always want to end a chapter in your life on your own terms, in your own voice.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had been monitoring the drug and only banned it, effective January 1 2016, because they found evidence of it being used by athletes for performance enhancement.
At the middle of the first high-profile doping scandal in tennis, she took full responsibility for ingesting the drug and the tennis world, along with the rest of the world, quickly turned against her. People in the tennis world called for her 35 single titles to be stripped, attacked her personal character, and criticised her team for not checking the new list of banned drugs by WADA. So really, as far as doping scandals go, this is nothing. It was not systemized, it was not intentional, and it was not performance-enhancing in the realm of tennis.
Sharapova accidentally did something wrong; broke the rules, but broke them nonetheless and was punished for it. She fought for the truth which reduced the sentence, putting her back on the court.
15 Months Without Tennis
When the suspension was announced, she found herself with what was to be 24 months without tennis when her heart and soul went into the game everyday since she was four years old. Now, she had time and she took full advantage of it, traveling to Barcelona, Croatia, London (outside of Wimbledon), dating multiple people at once, reading books.
She read everything from The One Thing, to memoirs from extraordinary women like Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wall. She took classes in leadership and brand management by Harvard Business School, interned at the NBA, Nike, and an ad agency in London, while ALSO writing her own memoir, with Rich Cohen.
The girl does not stop working; she is so good.
Her Candy and Personal Business
After long days of training in her youth in Russia, her father would reward her with sweets after a long day of practice. That sweet tooth is part of who she is and was a main motivator in the launch of her candy company, Sugarpova in 2012.
“Sugarpova was created out of a desire for me to share a little taste of my lifestyle with my fans and candy-loving consumers.” And girl, we support you. There is nothing in this world that is as satisfying, or happiness-inducing (you know, besides friends, family, and whatever) than sweets.
She started thinking about this business during a shoulder injury in 2008 at just 21 years old. Sidelined because of recovery, she was thinking about business. The candy is available in 22 countries in over 50,000 locations around the world.
Sharapova is a powerful role model. What are some of the books that have shaped her over her years?
A note from Christine at Wisebooks: OPEN by Tennis Star Andre Agassi was one of my favourite reads. I am going to put Sharapova’s autobiography on my list immediately
Biography sourceshttps://www.thestreet.com/lifestyle/sports/maria-sharapova-net-worth-14692594, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/mar/29/maria-sharapova-tennis-fought-for-truth-doping-ban, https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180801005243/en/Hudson-Group-Announces-Exclusive-Agreement-Maria-Sharapova%E2%80%99s, http://www.mariasharapova.com/bio/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Sharapova https://www.vogue.com/article/maria-sharapova-meldonium-suspension-returns-to-tennis
“Some of today’s books come as manuals, step-by-step guides and although that’s practical, it’s not how life always turns out. You might have to take the tenth step before you take the second. I enjoyed this books because it doesn’t give you answers; it makes you wonder what answer you might give yourself.” (Sharapova's Notes, Tribe of Mentors)
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