In the early part of her autobiography, Unstoppable, there’s a quote by Maria Sharapova’s father – Yuri Sharapov – about the way the father-daughter duo got past all odds to try and survive in what would become their adopted country.
Sharapov states, “We crossed this river like people who think they are walking on logs only to learn, on the far side, it’s been crocodile the entire time.” It could be looked upon as one of quaint clichés.
But, from the perspective of the way the five-time Grand Slam champion has templated her book, it seamlessly weaves in with the narrative. Speaking of which, one would wonder as to why this review of the already much-discussed autobiography has come about so late in the day.
However, since I only recently had a chance to peruse it, to me, it’s as timely as it could be. As is Unstoppable, despite the change in the plans Sharapova had had to make – in her own words, “Man plans, God laughs” – to her career and the circumstances in which the book was published.
In many ways, the autobiography offers more than a cursory glimpse of the Russian’s life – especially when it comes to shedding light on the now-fabled anecdotes about how her father and she came to the United States.
And, in a lot of ways, it merely skims through though it offers several repetitions about her personality traits. An aspect that becomes obvious while reading through her repetitive descriptiveness is that the persona of herself vs her opponent is one that Sharapova cultivated early on.
Not because she was urged to do so at the behest of her father – who, unlike what the world may perceive wasn’t cast in the archetypal villainous role – or any of her early coaches. But because she felt that it was the only way to go forward if she had to make a successful career in tennis.
This meticulousness of hers was seen in the way she comported herself during matches. Beyond that, it also extended to the way she used her apparel to distinguish herself from the rest of her peers – from the lower-ranked to the highest-ranked – early on.
The Serena Williams' References It’s in the context of this chain of constancy of facing off against rivals that the mentioning of Serena Williams has come about in the book. In the days leading up to its release, and even for a few days after Unstoppable had hit the market, it seemed Sharapova had only focused on Williams in her autobiography.
There also appeared to be certain racist overtones in the way she had described Williams’ physique. For one, the mentioning of Williams throughout the book aren’t as frequent as one would want to believe. Secondly, and most importantly, her descriptions weren’t racist – though Sharapova looked to be keen in pinpointing a couple of perceived character flaws in her rival before the world.
In certain way, Sharapova’s statements about the way she saw Williams as much as the way she expected her rivalry to develop present an admiration of the tour de force Williams has had been. This acknowledgement is grudging, but with the understanding that for as long as both play the sport, it can never be fleeting.
Sharapova writes, “Serena (Williams) has an extra motivation when she plays me. Why? Because I beat her as a kid at Wimbledon. Because, I took something from her.” This notation of Sharapova’s, then, also feels like her has tried to vent her own frustration at being unable to replicate that momentous win over Williams in all these years.
And that by putting her thoughts into words, she can finally turn things around to the way it was when their rivalry first began, going forward, whenever she gets a chance to face-off against the American. Likewise, it doesn’t take long to garner that much like her rivalry with Williams, Sharapova also wants – needs, rather – a do-over for her entire career after the unexpected 15-month setback by way of her ban.
Where once, not so long ago, she had conceived her autobiography to be her swansong from her career, it has now become the medium to convey her persistence to the world watching at large – once again. .