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Maria Sharapova from Chernobyl to Trophies and Fashion Magazines

Maria Sharapova from Chernobyl to Trophies and Fashion Magazines

Maria Sharapova from Chernobyl to Trophies and Fashion Magazines : Maria Sharapova turned pro in 2001 and by 2006, she was one of the greatest tennis stars in the world.

It was during that time, the start of Maria Sharapova’s golden period, 16 years back that she was in the limelight and she was also featured in the Sports Illustrated. That 2006 issue became one of the iconic Swimsuit issues and is remembered by all her fans till date.

Over the years, several prominent players have posed for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

In 2021, tennis star Naomi Osaka was showcased on one of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit covers. Osaka was the first Haitian and Japanese woman to appear on the cover of the iconic publication.

Sharapova is clearly one of the favourite athletes to be featured in the 2006 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

But very few of her fans may know that before she was holding trophies and featuring in fashion magazines, Maria Sharapova lived in post-Chernobyl Belarus.

Maria was born in Serbia, on April 26, 1987, almost exactly a year after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster which forever changed the landscape of Eastern Europe. Soon after Sharapova was born her family moved the town of Gomel, Belarus until fallout from Chernobyl affected the town forcing them to shift to Sochi.

It was in Sochi that Maria’s father became friends with the father of Yevgeny Kaflnikov, the 1st Russian tennis player to be named number one in the world.

This friendship with the Kaflnikov family is where Maria’s tennis story started. She received her first racket from Yevegeny’s father in 1991 and she instantaneously showed that she may have a future with the sport.

In 1994, incapable of speaking even a word of English and with very little money, the Sharapova’s moved to the United States without Maria’s mother who was delayed for 2 years due to Visa issues. Maria’s father, Yuri Sharapova, worked various low paying blue collar jobs to pay for her lessons until she was old enough to be admitted to the Bollettieri’s institute.

In 1995, the then nine year old Maria got a fantastic break when IMG signed her to a deal that would underwrite all the costs for tuition at the Bollettieri academy.

Sharapova’s talent and extremely good looks placed her among the world’s most famous and profitable athletes right after her win at Wimbledon.

She has featured in renowned magazines like Sports Illustrated, People, and Maxim almost right away after her first major title.

She also has mega endorsement deals from Gatorade, Tropicana, Canon and Nike.

Presently Maria Sharapova has retired from pro tennis and has taken on a new entrepreneurial career.

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Nirmal Sawlani

Tennis News Pro

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