Maria Sharapova described her father as someone who was "tough" and "pushed her to a certain extent" in tennis, while her mother was the one who was taking her to ballet and exposing her to other non-tennis things. When Sharapova was just six years old, she was spotted by tennis icon Martina Navratilova.
Navratilova instantly noticed Sharapova's talent and shortly after Yuri Sharapov made the decision to move from Russia to Florida to give his daughter a better chance at succeeding in tennis. Sharapova, who trained at Nick Bolletieri's academy, went on to become a tennis player and the rest is history as the Russian won five Grand Slams and was ranked at No 1 during her career.
Sharapova on the influence her parents had on her career
"My father was very influential in sport and he pushed me to a certain extent and he was tough. But very fair, and my mother just came from a point of education and culture and any chance she got, even if it was in Sarasota, Florida, she would take me to the ballet.
It may have not been the best at the time [laughs while talking about the ballet], but she exposed me to different things in life that weren't just hitting a tennis ball. That was one of her greatest gifts as she [her mom] didn't really care if I was number one or 300 in the world, she wanted me to stay curious and to stay humble.
My mom wanted me to understand that hype is not real, don't believe in it and work hard and the fruits of your labour will eventually be seed in different forms, and it's not about being just number one in the world. Being an only child and constantly being around them and seeing how supportive they were and all aspects of my life.
We grew an incredible bond and also like interest levels," Sharapova said on the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard podcast. Sharapova, who retired after the 2020 Australian Open, is also now a parent after welcoming a baby boy in 2022. In her post-birth interviews, Sharapova admitted that becoming a mother was something she really wanted in life.