As the 2018 U.S. Open approaches, a cursory look at the ranked players that will appear in the tournament is a who's who of the top athletes of the past decade. From Federer to Nadal to both Williams sisters, it's an impressive list.
One interesting name on that list is Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova. Her ascension to the top of the tennis world at a young age was one of the biggest stories in tennis in the 2000s. But her fall from grace in the past few years has been noticeable as well. She hasn't won a Grand Slam title since 2014 - in no small part due to a drug-related suspension.
Still, Sharapova remains one of the biggest names in the sport, and comes into the U.S. Open seeded 22nd in the women's singles tournament. How much has her career netted her at just 31 years of age?
Maria Sharapova Net Worth
Maria Sharapova Career
Sharapova's foray into tennis began at an extremely early age. Born in Russia in 1987, by 1994 she was in Florida receiving professional tennis training. Attending the famous IMG Academy in Florida as soon as she was eligible, and in 2000, at just 13, she played her first junior tournament.
2002 marked her first appearance at a Women's Tennis Association tournament, but it wasn't until 2003 that the average tennis fan became aware of her. She played in all 4 Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open) and while she left relatively early in most of them, Wimbledon saw her advance to the 4th round, pulling off a major upset against Jelena Dokic in the process. It made her a young phenom to watch in the next year.
Indeed, 2004 was a massive breakout year for Sharapova. She advanced the furthest she had ever gone in a WTA tournament, making the quarterfinals of the French Open, before moving onto Wimbledon. At Wimbledon, she advanced past the quarterfinals and semifinals to face reigning two-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams. Sharapova pulled off a stunning upset, defeating Williams and doing so in dominant fashion. Just 17, Sharapova made herself one of the faces of the sport.
Later that year in the WTA Championships, she would again face Williams in the final, and again come out victorious. Seemingly the beginning of what could become a storied rivalry, this was instead the last time Sharapova defeated Serena Williams. She is currently 2-19 against Williams in her career.
Still, Sharapova continued her ascendancy and in 2005, she reached the top. Making the semifinals in 3 Grand Slam tournaments and making 1 quarterfinal in another. She won several additional tournaments and, in August, reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings for the first time in her career.
2006 saw greater strides for Sharapova, as she set a new high in finals made in a year and won another Grand Slam tournament. This time it was the U.S. Open, beating former champion Justine Henin en route to victory. She would face Henin again in the semifinals of the WTA Championships, this time falling to her.
While she saw a return to the top of the WTA rankings in 2007, she also saw surprising upsets and early exits in Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Months after winning the 2008 Australian Open, Sharapova injured her shoulder, and for a few years and even after rehabilitating it, was unable to return to form. Early exits in major tournaments plagued Sharapova's 2010 season.
2011, though, saw a resurgence and a return to form. In addition to titles at the Italian Open and the Southern California Open, at Grand Slam tournaments she reached the semifinals of the French Open and returned to the final for Wimbledon, ultimately falling to Petra Kvitová. Still, she finished the year ranked No. 4 by the WTA, her highest placement in years.
Her resurgence continued the next year, as 2012 saw her win the French Open, her first Grand Slam title since 2008, reach the final of the Australian Open, and compete in the London Olympics, winning the silver medal representing Russia in the women's singles tournament.
Two years later, in 2014, Sharapova again won the French Open. In 2015, she made the Australian Open final but lost to Serena Williams. It is, to date, her last appearance at a Grand Slam title match. This is in large part due to a 15-month suspension she received from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) after testing positive for a banned substance (more on that later).
According to the WTA, Maria Sharapova has made more than $38 million in prize money from WTA tournaments alone.
Maria Sharapova Endorsements
Sharapova's greatness was predicted from an early age, and began accruing endorsement deals as a child. Today, she is basically her own brand, someone with major name endorsements and her own companies, too.
Her biggest and most enduring sponsorship has been with Nike, who first got involved in the Sharapova industry in 1998 - when she was just 11. That risk worked out splendidly for Nike, and they've kept her close by ever since. Most recently she signed an 8-year deal in 2010 worth $70 million.
It's far from the only notable company that sought Sharapova's endorsement. She has had deals with Porsche, Tag Heuer, and Evian in the past, recently starring in a new ad campaign for Evian. She is also a businesswoman who has started her own business endeavors, too. Her chocolate company, Sugarpova, began in 2012, and her skincare company Sugargoop just a couple of years later.
She still has most of her endorsements, but they were in serious jeopardy in 2016.
Maria Sharapova Controversies
In March of 2016, it was announced that Sharapova had received a (later reduced) 24-month ban by WADA after testing positive for meldonium, a drug that WADA had officially banned in January. Sharapova immediately announced her intention to appeal the suspension, along with making a public statement.
According to Sharapova, she had been talking meldonium for years under a different name with a prescription, and was unaware that it was the same as the now-banned substance. Meldonium was still allowed for use in Russia, and Sharapova claimed to be using it for a magnesium deficiency as well as a family history of diabetes.
Her suspension led to a quick fallout from sponsors; Nike and Tag Heuer both suspended their endorsement deals with Sharapova, though Nike soon returned.
In the wake of the appeal, it was ruled that while Sharapova had been legally using the substance for years, she still shared significant fault for the failed drug test, neglecting to disclose her use of meldonium on proper forms. The suspension was reduced from 24 months to 15. This still barred her from competing in the majority of Grand Slam tournaments in both 2016 and 2017.