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Maria Sharapova: Her Rags to Riches Story

Updated: Jul 26, 2022


Throughout society, it has widely been accepted that fulfilling the financial needs of sports is an arduous task on its own, especially as a result from purchasing the necessary materials and taking lessons from professionals. One sport that is renowned for its costly nature is tennis, as it requires players to secure the funds for tennis balls, uniforms, club memberships, etc. However, despite the fact that these expensive requirements may initially seem unattainable, with a rugged sense of passion and determination, players can ultimately achieve athletic success.


Although it is prefaced as difficult, Maria Sharapova, a prominent yet retired 35 year-old tennis player, was able to achieve that exact goal. Growing up in Russia, she began to play tennis from a very young age. She expanded on her prodigious ability, and at age six, she was able to gain the attention of Martina Navratilova, a Czech and American former tennis star, who encouraged her to move to the U.S. to begin building her career. By doing so, Sharapova’s family enrolled her into the infamous Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy, yet these opportunities were not as convenient as they appeared. Prior to moving to the United States, Sharapova and her family financially struggled to make ends meet in Russia, and therefore, were left with $700 to bring with them. Additionally, due to the language barrier, Sharapova and her father were left with more challenges to face in the United States. However, they both remained determined, and held the mindset that finances did not matter, as long as Maria worked strenuously to enhance her tennis trajectory.

Struggles and Challenges

While Maria spent days playing tennis at Nick Bollettieri academy, her father, on the other hand, had to compromise, by working several low-income jobs, in order to fund rent, food, and tennis training and practice sessions. One of the main aspects that both Maria and her father acknowledged was that money in the U.S. is a crucial factor that can either negatively or positively affect one’s lifestyle, depending on how much money one holds. Keeping this in mind, Maria did not only concentrate on bettering her tennis skill, rather she also efficiently utilized the budget that her and her father had, by teaching herself how to speak English through the short TV time they had, and learning how to preserve money in the house for bills.

Career Growth

At age 17, Maria’s coaches registered her for the Wimbledon Tournament in 2004, which resulted as one of the most revitalizing events in her entire career, as it facilitated her further growth later on. Furthermore, she defeated one of the most distinguished and esteemed players in tennis history, Serena Williams, with a final score of 6-1, 6-4. Sharapova also received a check for 560,500 euros, an abnormally huge amount for a teenager to obtain. This victory not only revealed to the public her incredible tennis skill and strength, but also proved to her family that financial needs were eventually not going to be an issue. Her win demonstrated that with the right amount of perseverance, one is able to achieve all the success they desire.


After this tournament, she was able to enroll herself in several other global tournaments, such as the US Open, the Australian Open, and Roland Garros, allowing her to eventually achieve five grand slams before her career ended. To this day, Maria remains as one of the most impactful and inspirational athletes within tennis history, and has truly made millions ever since her win in 2004. However, it is still important to emphasize that money and finances should not be the sole factor one thinks of within their career, rather they should prioritize doing what they love before committing to a role. “Money ultimately doesn’t bring you happiness that people from the outside may see,” Maria Sharapova says herself, thus proving that money is not the only outcome of joy that one receives during their career.

- Rachel Yu

Girls4Sports Member


Turner, Jon. “Maria Sharapova: A Remarkable Story of Rags to Riches, Success and Scandal – and One Tarnished Legacy.” The National, 5 July 2021,,Serena%20Williams%20in%20the%20final.

Балабай, Людмила. “Success Story: Maria ...” ForumDaily, 24 Sept. 2016,

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