Maria Sharapova opens up on father's major decision that was life-changing for her

Sharapova was just seven when her father moved her to the United States.

by Dzevad Mesic
Maria Sharapova opens up on father's major decision that was life-changing for her
© Getty Images Sport - Kristian Downling

Maria Sharapova is showing some major respect and appreciation for her father as the Russian tennis legend says she believed Yuri Sharapov and followed the path that he "paved" for her. 

Sharapova, who was born in 1987, started playing at a young age and her father Yuri was there from Day 1. In 1993, Sharapova was noticed by Martina Navratilova, who also had Eastern European roots. When former 18-time Grand Slam champion Navratilova saw Sharapova, she advised her father to move the family to the United States because that would give Maria a better chance at further developing and ultimately becoming a tennis pro. 

The following year, Sharapova moved to the United States and soon she started training at the Nick Bollettieri Academy. In the next couple of years, Sharapova continued to develop and ultimately turned pro at just the age of 14 in 2001. 

Three years later, Sharapova famously became a Grand Slam champion at 2004 Wimbledon after beating Serena Williams in the final. In 2005, Sharapova also became the world No. 1 for the first time in her career at the age of 18. 

Recounting her early days and first steps, Sharapova highlighted she was too young to have major dreams but underlined that she always trusted her father's vision.

"I knew that what I was doing, um... was different to other families, to other children. I knew that I had a different path and I, and I was living, it was a dream," Sharapova said on Bloomberg's "The Deal."

"I had a very clear vision and so did my mother and my father. My father, particularly because he was my coach for many years and it was, you know, his big goals. I was too young to really have those big goals, but I followed this road that he paved for me.

"I realized very much that this dream was becoming a reality that, you know, you had a choice to make every single day when you wake up to be the best and I was given an incredible gift of, you know, having a strong mind of persistence of focus, at."

Maria Sharapova and Yuri Sharapov
Maria Sharapova and Yuri Sharapov© Getty Images Sport - Bob Martin

Sharapova on coming to the United States to pursue her tennis dreams

When Sharapova and her father Yuri came to the United States in 1994, it was a big change for Maria, who was just seven at the time. Also, the fact that she and her father arrived alone because her mother couldn't get her visa approved initially wasn't helping either. 

For the first two years, Sharapova was in the United States without seeing her mother. While being separated from her mother wasn't easy, Sharapova knew that she and her father had all the support from her mother because she believed something good was going to come out of the entire situation. 

"I came to the United States as a young girl, and I didn't feel like I always belonged, but I found that as a gift. I didn't find that as a disadvantage and it was because of the foundation that my parents had built back home in Russia," Sharapova recounted.

"It was because of the foundation that my parents had built back home in Russia. My mother was very young, still in University but my dad had a decent job. He wasn't making a lot of money. But, I had a great environment, food on the table. I had great loving parents.

"If those were the conditions that I had to go back to, I was okay with and perhaps that gave me the confidence to just keep going, and, hey, if the top didn't happen to what I envisioned, then it was okay to go back to those humble beginnings."

Maria Sharapova and Yuri Sharapov
Maria Sharapova and Yuri Sharapov© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Lewis

Sharapova went on to make a huge career for herself

When Sharapova became a Grand Slam champion at the age of 17 and the next year also reached the world No. 1 ranking, it was clear that she would definitely meet the expectations and enjoy a very successful career. 

Two years after her maiden Grand Slam win, Sharapova also clinched her first US Open title and improved to two Grand Slam titles. Then, Sharapova also lifted her first Australian Open title in 2008 to get to three Grand Slams and put herself just a French Open title away from completing a Career Grand Slam. 

Early in her career, clay was evidently Sharapova's weakest surface and some feared the Russian would never win a title at Roland Garros. But then, Sharapova figured out playing on clay and she ended up winning the French Open titles in 2012 and 2014. 

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

In the end, Sharapova made 10 Grand Slam finals and went 5-5 in those matches. 

In 2020 January, Sharapova played the final tournament of her career at the Australian Open. Sharapova, who was 32 at the time of her retirement, has since focused on some other things in life as in 2022 she became a mother for the first time. 

Over the last couple of years, Sharapova several times shut down the idea of returning to pro tennis. 

Maria Sharapova