Lawn Tennis
Maria Sharapova Assumes World Number One Ranking
By Anton Lagani, Lawn Tennis Correspondent, Posted: Monday, May 19, 2008 11:56am CST USA
Maria Sharapova Assumes World Number One Tennis Ranking
Maria Sharapova of Russia
(óWe first saw Maria Sharapova of Russia as a tiny by comparison 14 year old stick figure on the WTA Tour when she turned professional in 2001. Then after fine tuning her game for a few years in lower level ITF challenger tournaments, word broke out in 2003 that the then 16 year old had top seeded Kim Clijsters of Belgium in the third set at a hard court tournament in Los Angeles.

Sharapova, had not yet reached her current height of 6 feet, 2 inches, but her grunt or scream as it was being referred to was already considered louder than monster baseliner and grunter Moncia Seles'. Attacking the ball with her punishing groundstrokes was paying off for Sharapova but she would finish just short on that day and lose to Clijsters in the round of sixteen match 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.

When she was only seven, Sharapova and her father and coach Yuri Sharapov emigrated to Florida. At age nine, Sharapova enrolled into the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

Sharpova's former coach and tennis guru Nick Bollettieri had soon proclaimed Sharapova as one of the greatest ball strikers ever. Many dismissed Bollittieri's claim as typical coach's hype. But that was before Sharapova would develop into her current six foot tall powerhouse and storm past American Serena Williams in the championship final to win Wimbledon in 2004.

Sharapova since has taken two other grand slam titles winning the 2006 US Open and the Australian Open in January.

And with the surprise retirement of former world number one and reigning French Open and US Open champion Justine Henin of Belgium last week, Sharapova today has automatically moved from world number two to world number one as Henin requested that the WTA Tour remove her from the WTA Tour rankings.

Sharapova was first ranked number one in August 2005 and has used her combination of beauty and tennis talent to earn more than $25 million per year.

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