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From Maria Sharapova, one of our fiercest female athletes, the captivating—and candid—story of her rise from nowhere to tennis stardom, and the unending fight to stay on top.
In 2004, in a stunning upset against the two-time defending champion Serena Williams, seventeen-year-old Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon, becoming an overnight sensation. Out of virtual anonymity, she launched herself onto the international stage. “Maria Mania” was born. Sharapova became a name and face recognizable worldwide. Her success would last: she went on to hold the number-one WTA ranking multiple times, to win four more Grand Slam tournaments, and to become one of the highest-grossing female athletes in the world.
And then—at perhaps the peak of her career—Sharapova came up against the toughest challenge yet: during the 2016 Australian Open, she was charged by the ITF with taking the banned substance meldonium, only recently added to the ITF’s list. The resulting suspension would keep her off the professional courts for fifteen months—a frighteningly long time for any athlete. The media suggested it might be fateful.
But Sharapova’s career has always been driven by her determination and by her dedication to hard work. Her story doesn’t begin with the 2004 Wimbledon championship, but years before, in a small Russian town, where as a five-year-old she played on drab neighborhood courts with precocious concentration. It begins when her father, convinced his daughter could be a star, risked everything to get them to Florida, that sacred land of tennis academies. It begins when the two arrived with only seven hundred dollars and knowing only a few words of English. From that, Sharapova scraped together one of the most influential sports careers in history.
Here, for the first time, is the whole story, and in her own words. Sharapova’s is an unforgettable saga of dedication and fortune. She brings us inside her pivotal matches and illuminates the relationships that have shaped her—with coaches, best friends, boyfriends, and Yuri, her coach, manager, father, and most dedicated fan, describing with honesty and affection their oft-scrutinized relationship. She writes frankly about the suspension. As Sharapova returns to the professional circuit, one thing is clear: the ambition to win that drove her from the public courts of Russia to the manicured lawns of Wimbledon has not diminished.
Sharapova’s Unstoppable is a powerful memoir, resonant in its depiction of the will to win—whatever the odds.
In this insightful memoir, 30-year-old tennis star Sharapova details her life from her earliest memories to the present day. Her father, Yuri, whisked six-year-old Maria from Russia to Florida because of her tennis skills, at tennis star Martina Navratilova's suggestion: "Your daughter can play; you need to get her out of the country to a place where she can develop her game." What ensued for Maria was a life lived on tennis courts either playing in tournaments or toiling in academies partially funded by whatever work Yuri could find. Maria excelled quickly, though at the cost of a typical childhood. After winning Wimbledon at 17, she entered another isolated sphere, one of celebrity and its trappings. "In short," she writes, "winning fucks you up." She is similarly blunt when discussing how to lose and her rivalry with Serena Williams, whom Sharapova discovered bawling after Sharapova beat her at Wimbledon in 2004 ("I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment"). Sharapova's eloquent self-awareness provides a rare glimpse into the disorienting push and pull of a famous athlete's life. "I know you want us to love this game us loving it makes it more fun to watch," she writes. "But we don't love it. And we don't hate it. It just is, and always has been." 16 pages of full-color photos.