Maria Sharapova – Reality Check

Women’s tennis has been consistently the story of rivalry between sheer power and delicacy in accurate strokes. In the history of tennis, there’s been so many famous female tennis stars who’ve excelled in every ministry of the game, leaving the audience enthralled. Be it the famous Steffi Graf forehand or superb volleying skill of the ever-young and agile Martina Navratilova; all these women tennis players have won the hearts of tennis fans world-wide. Here is a brief biography of some of them…

A hoard of tennis accolades, Martina Navratilova had started conquering the grass since the age of 16. She has 177 career titles to her name which in itself is an all time record (male or female). On 9 occasions this fabulous star has won the women’s single title in Wimbledon. This left-handed tennis star was unbeatable in the 1980s.

And…..

Maria Ester Audion Bueno, won Brazil’s women’s single championship at 14 years of age. There was no looking back after that. She started playing tennis at an early age and without any formal training won her first tournament at the age of 12. She was the first non-American woman to capture Wimbledon and U.S championships. In her career, she won three singles titles at Wimbledon and four U.S. championship titles, with a total of 71 titles during the open era. She also won twelve Grand Slam championships as a doubles player, with six different partners. In 1960, she was the first woman to gain the women’s doubles title, at all four Grand Slam tournaments in a year. She was a finalist at the French Open and Australian open in 1965 and 1964 respectively.

Taking a step back….

Recognized as either of the greatest female tennis players of all time, Margaret Court is the grand old lady of tennis. She had a total of 192 career titles. This included 62 major titles (48 during open era) won on all types of courts including grass, clay, hard and carpet (with a 91.74 Winning percentage), which in itself is a record. In 1979, she was inducted into the’ Tennis Hall of Fame’.

Continuing The Conversation

Andre Kirk Agassi is a former world no. 1 eight time Grand Slam singles champion and is considered to be one of the biggest tennis players of all time. Andre Agassi is the first player (male) to clinch the title of all the Grand Slams on grass, hard and clay surfaces, that is, on three different courts. He is also among the two players to accomplish a Career Golden Slam; Rafael Nadal being the other. Agassi is now engaged in the charity work his organization, Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, undertakes.

Billie Jean King (n&eacute ;e Moffit), born in California, was an exceptional softball player in her early years, yet her parents introduced her to tennis, the game that would change her life and the life of other women players. In 1967 she was chosen as’ Outstanding Female Athlete of the World’. In 1972 she was named Sports Illustrated’s ‘Sportsperson of the Year ‘, the first woman to be so honored and in 1973, she was dubbed’ Female Athlete of the Year’ too. She was the first female athlete to win over $100, 000 prize money in a single season.

Billie Jean King spoke out for women as well as their right to earn comparable money in tennis and other sports. Her constant lobbying has broken many barriers. Billie Jean King was awarded the National Service Bowl, for her contributions to tennis as President of Tennis-America. In her heydays, she won a total of 129 career titles. This includes 12 Grand Slam Singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.

This former World No. 1 German star, fondly called ‘Steffi’, reigned during the 1990s. 22 Grand Slam Titles and a Calendar Year Golden Slam are the feathers in the very heavy cap of the legendary Steffi Graf. She is the only tennis player in both Men’s and Women’s category to have attained the feat of winning all four Grand Slam singles titles and a gold medal at the Olympics in the same year (calendar year 1988).

A former world’s no. 1 tennis player (1980) from United States, Tracy Ann Austin Holt, started her career at a very early age and as a Junior player won 21 age-group titles, including the U.S. national under-12 title at the age of 10 (1972). She became famous as the youngest player to earn a professional tournament at the age of 14 (1977). She became the youngest-ever U.S. Open Champion at the age of 16 (1979). In 1992, Tracy Austin became the youngest person to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. However, her career was cutback by injuries and she was outclassed after her comeback in the next years. After her retirement from the game she worked as a commentator for NBC and the USA Network and now usually participates in the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage.

One of the early starters in women’s tennis players, Dorathea Katherine Douglass Lambert Chambers, from England, won seven ladies singles titles at Wimbledon, the first coming in 1903. She was the man who played the longest Wimbledon final in her time. She took retirement from singles in 1921 but continued as doubles player till 1927. From 1924 to 1926 she captained Britain’s Wightman Cup team and turned to professional coaching in 1928.

Charlotte Reinagle Cooper, from England, was a member of the Ealing Lawn Tennis Club. In 1895, she won her first of five Wimbledon championships singles titles and continued to succeed further. Also known as’ Chattie ‘, she was a tall, slender and elegant woman, but a powerful athlete who was the first woman to win the Olympic Gold Medal. She got married, during the same year when she won her fourth Wimbledon championship. After living a family life, she returned to active tennis and won her fifth Wimbledon championship (1908) at the age of 37, an age record that still stands. She died at the age of 96, after being active as a tennis player, even in her fifties.

Lottie Dod started her career at the age of 11. She won her first Wimbledon title at the age of 15, in 1887. An English athlete, best known as tennis player, she won the Wimbledon Championships five times. She remains the youngest player to gain the women’s singles tournament and press dubbed her as’ Little Wonder’. She was not just a tennis player but also a golfer, field hockey player and an archer. Not surprisingly, she is likewise named in the Guinness Book of Records, as the most versatile female athlete of all time. She died at the age of 88, unmarried, listening to the Wimbledon radio broadcasts in bed.

The first African-American woman to break the ‘color barrier ‘, Althea Gibson is referred to as the’ Jackie Robinson’ of tennis. She began her tennis career in 1946 under the help of a sponsor. She was also the first black person to earn a title at the Wimbledon. Althea was also honored, as the Associated Press Female Athlete of the year and that year, she retired from tennis.

Martina Navratilova, a former World No.1 Women tennis player was quoted by Billie Jean King as’ She is the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who’s ever lived’. She was named second best female player of twentieth century in’ The greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century ‘, a book by Steve Flink. Tennis magazines have declared her as the greatest ever. She won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. Starting her career with her first coach and her stepfather Miroslav Navratil, she is famous for her superb volleying skills. A southpaw, she won her first Grand Slam singles at Wimbledon, defeating Evert in 1978. In 1985, she also released an autobiography titled’ Martina’.

The former world number one women’s tennis player from United States, Jennifer Capriati, won three Grand Slam single titles and a gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1992. She became the youngest player to win the French Open Junior singles title at the age of 13, until her record was broken by Martina Hingis. She became the youngest-ever semifinalist at the French Open at 14 yrs 2 months. She was also the youngest-ever semifinalist in 1991, after defeating Martina Navratilova. She made a comeback in 1996 after a break. She won her first tournament in six years, in 1999. Finally capturing the Australian Open title in 2001 she followed up with capturing the French Open title, five months later, defeating Kim Clijsters.

Deep, powerful, well-placed groundstroker, Kim Clijster from Belgium is a former World No. 1 ranker in singles and doubles. Also known as Kim Kong, Kim Possible, or Killing Kim, she won most of her career matches on the grounds of her speed, power, and strength. Starting her career as runner-up in 1998 at Wimbledon Junior event, she’s been a very successful player. Few critics lambasted her for being ‘too nice’ and she replied’ You do not have to hate your opponents to beat them’. Kim won 34 WTA singles titles and 11 WTA doubles titles, including U.S. Open single title (2005), French Open and Wimbledon women’s doubles title (2003). She announced her retirement from the game on May 6, 2007 to live a married life with American Basketball player Brian Lynch.

Daughter of Wink Davenport, member of U.S. Volleyball team at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Lindsay Davenport is a former World No.1 American professional female tennis champion. In 1988 she won U.S Open, 1999 Wimbledon and 2000 Australian Open, which are the three prime Grand Slam singles tournaments. In 1996, she also won an Olympic gold medal in singles. Lindsay Davenport has earned about US $21 million in prize money, surpassing Steffi Graf in that department.

Victoria Azarenka is Belarusian player who is currently ranked number one in the entire world. She has reaped a large amount of acclamation by the time she turned twenty three. Some of the titles that she has won over the years include two Australian Open singles titles; two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles– the 2007 US Open and the 2008 French Open, bronze and gold medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Besides Sharapova, she was locked in intense rivalries with Serena William, Li Na, and Marion Bartoli.

Maria Sharapova profile fits beautifully in to that of a Russian femme fatale as her serves border on deadly. She is believed to have one of the more powerful serves in the whole of Tennis. As of February, 2013, she ranks number three in the world though in 2005 she was ranked number one. Statistically speaking, Sharapova has more titles to her name that Azarenka, due to the fact that she’s a couple of years senior to the Belarusian player. Sharapova has an astounding tally of 27 WTA singles titles, inclusive of four Grand Slam singles titles, to her credit. She is also a silver medalist at the Summer Olympics in 2012.

With 21 grand slam titles, Venus Williams is known for her powerful stroke play, just like her sister Serena. She holds the rare distinction of being one of the few two active players who’ve reached the finals of all the four major grand slams. Her total title tally rounds up to 43 currently, besides the Olympic gold medal she received in 2000.

A former world No.1 And the current no.4, Maria Sharapova is one of the topmost paid athletes in the world, with 24 WTA titles and 4 ITF titles to her name. This includes three grand slam singles titles, including Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles. Riddled by injuries, her career did not progress as well, as it took off, but now she is making in place for the lost time.

A rising star, Caroline Wozniacki is currently (in December, 2011) the WTA World No.1, Without winning a single grand slam title till date. The Danish player currently has 18 WTA titles and 4 ITF titles added to her kitty. Though yet to be tested fully, since her debut in 2005, she has steadily climbed the WTA rankings with consistent performances. Her fans now await her first grand slam win.