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Old Dec 31st, 2012, 03:00 PM   #121
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Re: ** Masha News and Articles! ** Vol. 3

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sport/...-1226545906088

MARIA Sharapova never imagined this life.
Who could possibly dream that they would be a Wimbledon champion at 17, accumulate career earnings of $23 million and a bank balance at least quadruple that figure, as well as being the most marketable female athlete and richest sportswoman of all time.

But here she is, still only 25, entering her 12th year on the WTA and remarkably a somewhat reluctant tennis player, stunned she is among the world's best.

"I'm horrible at other sports," she said while relaxing on a lounge beneath Pat Rafter Arena.

"I don't even attempt to play other sports. I don't even know how I became good at this sport because I didn't have any athletic background from my family.


"To be honest, if you came to my house you wouldn't even know that I was a tennis player."

At 188cm tall and legs as long as you could possibly imagine, there is no doubt Sharapova is genetically blessed for tennis and has loads of natural talent.

But talent only gets you so far. It doesn't win you four Grand Slam titles, including a French Open victory in 2012 that finally completed the set and came after shoulder surgery threatened her career three years earlier.

"That was special," she said. "It being the Grand Slam I hadn't won and being the first one I've won after my surgery, just so many things came together."

So how did Sharapova get to this point?

She is not the first Russian bombshell to turn heads on tour, but she is much more than a pretty face gracing billboards in Times Square.

Sponsors like Nike, Tag Heuer, Tiffany and Co and Samsung pay millions for her to promote their products and now Sharapova has her own major business interest with her own candy line, Sugarpova, generating enormous Australian sales and set for its own department store launch in Melbourne next week.

It is just another hobby in the diverse interests of the world's most Googled woman.

"I'm very lucky to be in a position to do what I do. When I started playing tennis at four-years-old I never envisaged I'd be as successful as I am today," she said.

"You always dream and you dream big, I'm very fortunate to have other opportunities in my life and to balance those things.

"I always knew growing up there were so many other things I enjoyed. Of course I love the competition of tennis and that is why I play.

"I love what I do but I feel like the other things keep me grounded and keep me interested in my main focus which is tennis. If I didn't have those interests I think I would be pretty bored.

"I can't just sit on a couch. Three days off is enough for me, then I'm like, 'Where is my work?' I just want to be doing things."

Among her other interests include a love of architecture, which, if you're asking, any books on the topic is what you get someone who has everything, and interior design, because she is fascinated by the formation of nothing into something.

Which brings us back to the formation of Sharapova. Not the brand, the tennis star. The 2004 Wimbledon champ who has gone on to win the US Open (2006), Australian Open (2008) and last year the French Open to go with an Olympic silver medal and the honour of being the first woman to carry the Russian flag at the opening ceremony.

Amazing honours for a girl who moved to the US aged nine to join the Nick Bollettieri Academy to begin the journey on this dream.

"For that story though there are a million others that weren't as successful, so, of course, I'm very lucky but there is no secret to hard work," she said. "There are some people who are diehard fans of going in the gym and some people say 'Oh, I work out and I feel so good after' and I'm like 'What are you on?' That is so not me.

"But I'm professional enough to realise that is the work that I have to do to get better and improve and there are no shortcuts.

"There are days when you wake up and it's freezing outside and it's still dark and the last thing you want to do is go outside when maybe everyone is still in their pyjamas and you don't want to go out and practise hitting tennis balls.

"It's tough, you have to push yourself ... it's not always an easy ride and you go through a few setbacks here and there. But then on a Saturday afternoon when you're lifting the trophy, everyone is still in their pyjamas watching you on television and you realise that those mornings are pretty worth it."
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