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Wednesday 17 June 2015

Maria Sharapova Now the World’s Wealthiest Female Athlete.

Maria Sharapova is in a pretty good mood for someone who might be about to lose a tournament. It’s mid-March and she’s just made the two-hour drive from her beachfront home in
Los Angeles to the desert town of Indian Wells, Calif., the site of the BNP Paribas Open. The tournament is owned by Larry Ellison, the software mogul and seventh-richest person in the world. In the past five years, through $100 million of upgrades and the help of sponsors such as Rolex and Emirates Airline, he’s turned it into one of the premier stops on the men’s and women’s tour.

“It’s a bit more personal for me to come here,” Sharapova, 28, says of Indian Wells. “I have a lot of friends and family who come to watch.” The exception is her Pomeranian, Dolce, who stays at home because of the dry conditions. “It’s not good for his hair.”
At the prematch press conference, Sharapova, in black-and-white exercise pants and a billowy gray tank top, handles questions gracefully. She’s held steady this year in the No. 2 spot in the women’s rankings. Number Two. Few people in the history of the game have struck the ball as cleanly as she does from both sides of the court, and at 6 foot 2, she has the reach and athleticism to thrive on both hard and grass courts. And yet she’s spent her career in the shadow of Serena Williams, the No. 1 player in the world—perhaps of all time. Williams, 33, has boycotted the Indian Wells tournament since 2001, after being booed relentlessly during the final, an incident that she and her family considered racially motivated. Now she’s made her return, and the tournament’s organizers, the media, and the spectators are falling all over themselves to make amends. Sharapova is playing Williams’s understudy, again. As usual, she insists that it doesn’t bother her. “You want to play against the best, and she is the best,” Sharapova says of Williams.

Like Williams, who grew up playing tennis in Compton, Calif., Sharapova had a hard upbringing. Her parents fled Siberia four months after the Chernobyl explosion, as radiation began to wash over their town of Nyagan. During the next few years, Sharapova bounced around Russia. When she was just 6 years old, Martina Navratilova spotted her on a tennis court in the resort city of Sochi and recommended that the youngster gather her things and head off to the Nick Bollettieri academy in Florida. “The only thing I remember is packing up my books,” Sharapova said in an ESPN documentary about her childhood. “I told my mom I wanted to make sure I have a piece of my country with me.”
Source: BBC

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