Keeping her priorities straight
Unbelievably busy Sharapova says tennis is still No. 1
Posted: Friday May 11, 2007 5:01PM; Updated: Friday May 11, 2007 5:11PM
Maria Sharapova has become an international icon at the tender age of 20, but what she wants most right now is to be healthy and get back to the sport she loves. I caught up with her this week at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., where she was practicing with her coach, Michael Joyce, and her father, Yuri.
"This is the second year in a row I am missing most of the clay court season," she said, "and it is so frustrating not being able to get the matches I need heading into a Grand Slam. But right now I am just taking it one day at a time and my priority is to just get healthy."
Maria is battling a nagging injury to her right shoulder, which has bothered her since the beginning of the year. It has affected not only her serve, but also her patience. In talking to Maria, it is apparent how much she loves competing and how much she misses the tension-filled atmosphere that surrounds every match she plays. In stark contrast to many of her starlet predecessors, Maria craves the satisfaction of victory on the court more then adulation off it.
That's not to say Maria doesn't enjoy the incredible access and opportunity that her status allows her. She has a keen eye for fashion and enjoys the process of collaborating with Nike, the clothing sponsor on her always-evolving line of dresses. She is personally responsible for bringing Nike from the sports pages to the fashion magazines.
"It all started with the black dress I wore during the U.S. Open last year [which she won incidentally]. I helped design that and everyone loved it, so I have continued to work with the Nike designers, and I enjoy it so much."
Maria isn't the type of person who dreams small or lacks belief in herself, and rightfully so. She is the first female tennis player to successfully transcend the athletic world for that of the fashion world. She was recently the first female athlete on the cover of Teen Vogue, and who could forget her spread in last year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. She was recently featured in a 10-page spread in the March edition of Vogue and was named one of the "10 Best Dressed New Faces" by the magazine.
She designed the best-selling pink tennis bag for her tennis racket sponsor, Prince, and the new edition of her bag will be debuting soon, as will her new Canon commercial. She also has a successful perfume bearing her name, which she helped create. So you get the picture: This is one busy 20-year-old. She isn't just a tennis player; she is a walking, talking, tennis ball-pounding corporation.
Aside from that, however, she personally updates her Web site, answers fans questions and entertains her supporters with insightful and humorous information. Among the info, her "Dream Mixed Doubles Partner" (John McEnroe, so she would have someone to yell at the umpires with!), "Favorite Spa" (Four Seasons Costa Rica), "Favorite place she wants to go but hasn't been"(Maldives) and "Favorite Movie" (Something's Gotta Give)."
Maria's "Weekly Doodles" give her fans access and insight into her life, which sometimes is as simple as practicing and sometimes as spectacular as shooting commercials or attending fashion shows. Suffice to say, she makes the extra effort to let people into her life, giving them the opportunity to know her on and off court.
However what Maria wants everyone to know the most is that, "Tennis is my priority. I am very aware that I get to do a lot of other fun and exciting things because of my tennis, but it is tennis that I love the most, and I will never lose sight of that."
And that is exactly what her fans want to hear. Get healthy soon, Maria. Hope to see you in Paris.