In a recent interview Maria Sharapova commented on how her success and his compatriots' helped Russia to increase the popularity of tennis in the country. 'Tennis just wasn't a big sport in Russia when I was growing up', Sharapova admitted.
'It was about other sports. Facilities were really tough to get to. Yeah, I mean, many things have changed since then, since we've had many great players coming from Russia. I think many young girls and boys wanted to play tennis, so there are more opportunities and more facilities.
But it's still not as good as it can be; and coaches, as well. I think for that reason we had to move.' Sharapova added: 'It's a really big country, full of incredible culture, and many great athletes have come from the country, not just from the sport of tennis.
We're very fortunate because I think we were given the drive from our parents. That really encouraged us and sacrificed a lot in our careers to get us to a point where we want to be in our certain careers. I think we have to thank them for that.
Because when you're at a young age, everything is in their hands from the drives to the practices to the encouragement on bad days.
Yeah, in the beginning it was a lot about the Olympic sports and hockey, in the beginning of my life, and gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics.
Now tennis is one of the biggest sports there.' ALSO READ: Rafael Nadal: Worse players than David Ferrer won a Grand Slam title