Maria Sharapova can pull off the whole Blonde Goddess thing with ease–it’s no problem when you’re a world-class athlete, a multi-multi-millionaire, and 6-foot-2 inches of beautiful. But then she unleashes this very un-goddesslike noise, a booming sound that has nothing to do with smashing the stuffing out of a two-ounce tennis ball.
See, Sharapova likes to laugh. A lot. Ask her a question, any question, and she’ll find a laugh in there somewhere. So what do you like to eat, Maria? “Everything!” [Laugh.] How would you describe yourself? “Oh, well…stubborn. Very stubborn” [laugh]. Why do you love tennis? “Because all your wins and all your losses are in your hands. I mean, I would be terrible at team sports” [laugh]. I’d never be able to pass the ball to anyone” [big laugh].
The 21-year-old may not take herself too seriously, but trust us: she takes her work–in this case, an afternoon photo shoot in Phoenix–very seriously. She arrives on the set 30 minutes early (she hates being late), dressed in black Hudson jeans, a gray Graham & Spencer tank top, and black flats, her hair still wet from the gym. After greeting every person in the room, she quickly shifts into job mode, a nonstop whirl of multitasking–selecting her clothes, checking out the shots of herself (“I just want to make sure I don’t look like someone I don’t recognize!”), and discussing an upcoming project with her beauty squad (a hairstylist, a makeup artist, and a fashion stylist), all the while working on her Sony Erickson P1. “I’m always on the go,” she explains. “I love doing things until I hit rock bottom. Then I need my 12 hours of sleep, and I’m on the go again.”
All that energy has paid off. Armed with a killer backhand, not to mention killer instincts, she’s won 19 singles titles and three Grand Slams (the 2004 Wimbledon, the 2006 US Open, and the 2007 Australian Open) and has been perched at or near the top of the tennis rankings since 2003. From the outside, her ascent looks kind of like a fairy tale, but Sharapova sees it differently: “It might look like that, but I hope it never will be. It’s not fun when everything goes right all the time.”
That’s a pretty good philosophy to have these days, since Sharapova is in town to rehab a shoulder injury that has kept her off the baseline since last August. But she puts a positive spin on life on the sidelines, too. “Sure, as an athlete, you want to be out there playing as much as you can. But once you get over the pity party, it’s alright,” she says. “To be honest, everything in my life outside of tennis is great. I’m doing amazing projects that, if I didn’t have time off, I wouldn’t be able to focus on.” She proudly describes a recent Cole Haan meeting (Sharapova is the face of Cole Haan Sporting and is designing a product line for the company): “I drew up these boards, designs, and sketches. It was a presentation, instead of me rushing into a room and then rushing out again to go practice.”
But Sharapova is able to take her work seriously without seeming to take herself that way. When her hairstylist is asked how long they’ve been together, he replies, “I don’t know.”
“See?” Sharapova announces loudly to all in attendance. “Typical guy. Doesn’t even know how long we’ve been in the relationship!” When someone suggests she take a golf cart to today’s shoot rather than teeter down a steep cobblestone path in her four-inch heels, Sharapova waves them off. “Come on, guys,” she says, pointing to her shoes. “It’s Nike Air technology.”
Besides, Sharapova is used to rocky journeys. Her well-known back story: As a 7-year-old from the tiny Siberian town of Nyagan, she showed some early promise after being introduced to tennis by her father, Yuri, so the two left for the States with all of the family’s savings–$700–in hand and no English. “We were in a completely new world. It was like I was going on some adventure: Where am I? This is completely new: new people, new life, new food, and the first few years were basically about that.” But visa issues kept her mother behind. “Now my mom and I talk on the phone every day. But there were no cellphones back then, so letters were our only form of communication. Sometimes it took a month and a half to get a letter back,” she says. “When I look back and ask myself if I could do that again, I think absolutely not. Just to remember it hurts sometimes. But those things have developed my character. I’m grateful for what I have because it was never just given to me.”
After a couple of years here, she and her father arrived–uninvited–at the gates of Nick Bollettieri’s famous tennis academy in Bradenton, Florida. Sharapova eventually got accepted, showed more promise, and Madison Avenue took notice. She got sponsors, joined the women’s tour at 16, and one year later, in 2004, took the game’s biggest prize, Wimbledon, thrashing the heavy favorite, top-ranked Serena Williams, 6-1, 6-4. The resulting celebrity led to a string of endorsement deals with Nike, Canon, Tag Heuer watches, and others that, according to Forbes, last year netted her a cool $23 million.
But despite her fame, Sharapova’s Eastern European roots still run deep. “What’s Russian about me?” she asks. “Oh, wow–where do we start? It’s really interesting, because when I’m in my house or with my parents, I speak Russian. And I eat Russian food all the time–like varenikis, these dumplings that have different fillings inside, and sour cream, which is our version of ketchup. I put it on top of everything–mashed potatoes, omelets. It’s crazy!” But one thing the homeland can’t beat, according to Sharapova, is the convenience of U.S. supermarkets. “In Russia, the products are all in different places–meat in one place, vegetables in another place, milk in another. We don’t have grocery carts, either. When I return to the U.S. after being away, I’m like, ‘Aaaahh….'”
When Sharapova isn’t traveling, she’s a homebody. Her main residence is a five-bedroom home in Florida, which she shares with her Pomeranian, Dolce (no, he’s not the pooch in her Canon commercials), and her parents. “I’m very European that way,” she says. “In Europe, you live with your parents until you’re older. I love having their company.” She also has a “vacation house” in Manhattan Beach, California, with a killer view of the Pacific. That’s where you’ll find her working on her own designs or powering up the TiVo to catch up on Grey’s Anatomy, Entourage, and The Chelsea Handler Show (“I love her sense of humor–she just blabs about everyone and everything”). “Sometimes my mom thinks that how I spend my time is completely crazy,” she says. “She’d rather see me reading a book.”
Her favorite spot in her house: her bedroom. “Yeah, I love my mattress,” Sharapova says. “It’s the little things.” It’s the big ones, too, like her unique take on a fireplace. “Instead of logs, I arranged rocks that I got when I was in Costa Rica,” she explains. “I put candles in there, too, so it’s actually more of a candleplace.” Illustrations of the ocean–one at sunrise, another at sunset–surround her, and there’s a wall of black-and-white photography, including one of the first covers of Vogue.
That last item is fitting, because trust us: When it comes to clothes, Sharapova knows her stuff. This is a woman whose tennis ensembles, which have included a tuxedo-inspired number for 2008’s Wimbledon and a sparkly Holly Golightly-esque little black dress for the 2006 US Open, have been the talk of the fashion tabloids. She can often be found sitting front row center at New York’s Fashion Week, and she collects Chanel bags (about 20 of them at last count) and Frank Gehry jewelry. “Stella McCartney is also one of my favorites,” she says of the British designer, whose creations make up about half her wardrobe. “Not just because her clothes are amazing and fit me really well, but because she’s a woman, she’s married, she has kids, and has so much going on in her life. I met her a few months ago and she was telling me all about the projects she’s been working on, like redesigning her house. It was mind-blowing. I was like, ‘How do you do it?’ That’s very inspirational.”
It’s clear that Sharapova is striving for that same kind of balance in her own life. “I don’t see myself playing tennis in 10 years,” she says. By then, she’d like to be “doing something design-related”–maybe starting a sportswear line with Nike–and, she says, “I’d like to have a family.” Ask about her rumored former boyfriends, like fellow tennis pro Andy Roddick or Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, or her reported current beau, Charlie Ebersol, the son of actress Susan Saint James and Dick Ebersol (the president and chairman of NBC Sports), and she pleads the fifth. She will tell you, though, the traits she values most in a guy. “A sense of humor, a comfort level,” she says. “It’s easy to impress me. I don’t need a fancy party to be happy. Just good friends, good food, and good laughs. I’m happy. I’m satisfied. I’m content.” And then there’s that laugh again, which beats her killer backhand for putting the point away.
- Sharapova branded lollipops and new endorsements await tennis star in Russia
- The UN has dropped Maria Sharapova as a Goodwill Ambassador
- Katrina Lake, Daniel Lubetzky, Maria Sharapova, and Anne Wojcicki Are the New Guest Judges on 'Shark Tank' Season 11
- Wimbledon: From Maria Sharapova to Coco Gauff – the teenagers who have starred at SW19
- Dominic Thiem Says Fellow Tennis Star Serena Williams Has 'Bad Personality' Over Press Room Drama
- Tennis Star Naomi Osaka Named AP Female Athlete Of Year
- The ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’ Star Maria Bakalova Is Now an Oscar Nominee
- Nick Kyrgios claims 'my head's in the shed' in emotional interview after Citi Open exit
- Halep, Sharapova begin well
- Roger Federer out for ‘many months’ and fighting to save tennis career after revealing he will have knee surgery
- Sue Barker heartbreak after Cliff Richard 'contemplated marrying star'
- “Thinking is fatal!” Playing tennis with Maggi Hambling
- Andy Murray responds to Man Utd star David De Gea's tennis video with US Open offer
- Naomi Osaka Plans To Help Out Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts | Tennis News
- Stefanos Tsitsipas Angers Greek Government Over Vaccination Views | Tennis News
- JAN MOIR: Sport stars who sulk like surly barbarians over a silver medal shame us all
- French Open: Naomi Osaka Beats Patricia Maria Tig To Reach Second Round | Tennis News
- Naomi Osaka Wants To Use French Open Media Boycott "To Bring About Change", Says Coach | Tennis News
- Pele brings sporting stars together for charity auction
- Naomi Osaka Fined And Threatened With French Open Default Over Media Boycott | Tennis News
Tennis Star: Maria Sharapova Interview have 1887 words, post on www.womenshealthmag.com at December 11, 2008. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.