Maria Sharapova's parents, Yuri and Elena, are from Gomel,
Belarus. Concerned about the regional effects of the 1986
Chernobyl nuclear accident, they left their homeland shortly
before Sharapova was born.
When Sharapova was two, the family moved to Sochi. There her
father befriended Aleksandr Kafelnikov, whose son Yevgeny
would go on to win two Grand Slam singles titles and become
Russia's first world no. 1 ranked tennis player.
Aleksandr gave Sharapova her first tennis racquet at the age
of four, whereupon she began practicing regularly with her
father at a local park. She took her first tennis lessons
with veteran Russian coach Yuri Yutkin, who was instantly
impressed when he saw her play, noting her "exceptional
At the age of six, Sharapova attended a tennis clinic in
Moscow run by Martina Navratilova, who recommended
professional training at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy
in Florida, which had previously trained players such as
Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, and Anna Kournikova.
With money tight, Yuri borrowed the sum that would enable
him and his daughter, neither of whom could speak English,
to travel to the United States, which they finally did in
1994. Visa restrictions prevented Sharapova's mother from
joining them for two years.
Arriving in Florida with savings of US$700, Sharapova's
father took various low-paying jobs, including dishwashing,
to fund her lessons until she was old enough to be admitted
to the academy.
In 1995, she was signed by IMG, who agreed to pay the annual
tuition fee of $35,000 for Sharapova to stay at the academy,
allowing her to finally enroll at the age of 9.
WTT Newport Beach Breakers - Maria Sharapova Photoshoot
press image for big size
Maria Sharapova born April 19, 1987) is a Russian professional tennis player. As of February 25, 2013 she is ranked world no. 3.
As part of an emotional pregame show on TNT, Shaquille O'Neal called the death of Kobe Bryant something he "never could have imagined," and Jerry West called it the "saddest day of my life."
Sources: Lakers gather, share best Kobe stories
The Lakers gathered Tuesday for the first time since Sunday's helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant.
76ers salute Philly native Kobe as tributes pour in
Before Tuesday's home game, the 76ers honored the memory of Kobe Bryant, who went to nearby Lower Merion High School, with a video tribute and a moment of silence. Worldwide, fans continued to honor the former NBA great.
Officials: No terrain warning system on chopper
Federal officials on Tuesday said the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight others didn't have a warning system to alert the pilot if the aircraft was too close to terrain.
HOF defensive end Doleman dies at age 58
Chris Doleman, a former defensive end who was a Hall of Famer and an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, has died at the age of 58, the Pro Football Hall of Fame said.
Baseball coach killed in crash honored at opener
More than 2,000 people were on hand Tuesday for Orange Coast College's season opener against Southwestern College.
Source: Astros focus on Baker to be new manager
The Astros have focused their managerial search on veteran Dusty Baker, a source told ESPN. A deal hasn't been finalized.
Coach K scolds Crazies following Capel chant
Duke's Mike Krzyzewski yelled at Blue Devils fans to "Shut up!'' and went across the court to scold them at the end of the first half for their "Jeff Capel, sit with us" chant.
Lowe: Kobe's greatness was both beautiful and maddening
Kobe Bryant had the skill and knowledge to be any kind of player he wanted to be.
What fueled Kobe Bryant's obsessions
With intense preparation, study and pride, Kobe embraced his competitive nature.
Opening Night: Star QBs meet, and Andy Reid has an impersonator
Here were the best sights and sounds from when the 49ers and Chiefs met the media on Monday.
Who are the biggest overachievers, underachievers in top leagues?
Who's defying expectations? These teams have strayed furthest from college basketball's preseason script.
Bracketology: Memphis, NC State among notables on bubble
Denied a bid last season, they are now among those in current bracket peril.
Meet the NFL's class of 2019: 10 players who graduated to stardom
Lamar Jackson is the likely MVP. Derrick Henry could reset the running back market this offseason. These are the NFL's new stars.
Kobe and Gianna Bryant, a tribute at Manila's famed basketball court
The mural at the famed Tenement court in Manila has become a tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
'She was the future': WNBA stars saw themselves in Gigi Bryant's own hoop dreams
In WNBA players, Gigi Bryant saw what she hoped to be. In her, the players saw who they once were.
Who is the team to beat in the NL Central? It just might be the Reds
Cincinnati is making the moves to win this winter. The rest of the division is not.
Lessons from Nick Saban and Aaron Boone: How David Ross is preparing to lead the Cubs
Before managing his first game, Chicago's new skipper is soaking in advice from across baseball and beyond.
Nobody's perfect, but Simona Halep comes close
Two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep needed just 53 minutes to defeat Anett Kontaveit and advance to the semifinals.
How each Top 25 team wins next year's national title
Feel like celebrating next January? Here's what each of the nation's best teams needs to win it all next season.
Inside the Rangers' goalie carousel: Is Lundqvist still the No. 1?
Is Henrik Lundqvist still the starter? Will Alexandar Georgiev be traded? How good is Igor Shesterkin? Our team tackles the Rangers' goalie questions.
WWE star Xavier Woods on surreal NHL All-Star experience, bar arcades, more
We check in with the superstar, who competed in the "Chel Gaming Challenge" in St. Louis.
A year later, Amy Bockerstette has still got this
One hole with Gary Woodland made Amy Bockerstette a celebrity and forged a connection to the U.S. Open champion. But since that viral moment, Bockerstette has done so much more.
Why a boxing event could steal the spotlight in Miami this week
YouTube sensations Jake Paul and AnEsonGib jump into the boxing ring, plus three title fights on an interesting Thursday card in the Super Bowl host city.
Insiders debate the UFC's heavyweight problem, make one bold prediction
How long should the UFC wait for Stipe Miocic's next defense, and who will be the champ by year's end? Our panel weighs in.
Is Messi fed up with life at Barca?
Lionel Messi's level of play and body language suggest all is not well with him at Barcelona. What could be causing the growing rift at Camp Nou?
Shock No. 1 in Overwatch League preseason coaches poll
We polled coaches from around the Overwatch League to get their take on who's the best heading into the 2020 season.
The huge task facing Ferrari in 2020
From the car to the team operations to driver management, ESPN looks at the areas Ferrari must improve to mount a championship challenge in 2020.