Maria Sharapova was one of the most famous sportspeople on the planet during her legendary career – but has undergone somewhat of a transformation since hanging up her racket.
After bursting onto the scene in 2004 she became the darling of Wimbledon, beating Lindsey Davenport in the final at the age of just 17. It proved the platform for a storybook career, latter winning two French Open titles, as well as both the Australian and US Open – to go with Olympic gold in 2012.
But it wasn’t just on the court where she won awards and honours. In 2006, Maxim ranked the Russian star ‘the hottest athlete in the world’ for four straight years. That same year, she posed in a bikini photoshoot spread in the 2006 Valentine’s Day issue of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
But those who followed the star in her heyday would have to look twice at her latest pictures on Instagram. Sharapova retired more than three years ago following the 2020 Australian Open, and looks considerably different from her last on-court action.
The 36-year-old has ditched her famous blonde look, now a sporting a much darker hairdo. She posed for snaps at the Monaco Grand Prix, looking completely different from her tennis playing days.
Sharapova has successfully gone into business since walking away from the sport, and last year became a member of member of Board of Directors of fashion brand Moncler. Numerous other ventures include her acting as an advisor to brands like Naked Retail and Bright.
And further pics were uploaded from Cannes Lions festival earlier this year, as well as a holiday at Lake Como in Italy. And her 4.5 million followers reacted by showering the former star with compliments, clearly not deterred by her new appearance.
Sharapova is now a mother, with baby son Theodore born in July 2022. Now based in Florida, she was once considered one of the most marketable sportspeople in the world, winning £31 million in career prize money and more than £230 million in sponsorship and endorsements.
But her legacy was tainted in 2016 when she was handed a 15-month ban for failing a drugs test for the banned substance meldonium. She took full responsibility for the saga, but claimed she innocently took the substance as medicine, unaware that WADA rules had changed.
Sharapova has recently confirmed a sporting comeback of some note, announcing her involvement in John McEnroe’s Pickleball tournament in February of next year.
“I’m playing pickleball,” she announced on social media. “And not just any pickleball, I am playing with John McEnroe against Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi.
“February 4, in Miami, at the Hard Rock [Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida], it’s the Pickleball Slam 2.” She added: “Dare I say I’m getting a little competitive, and slightly nervous and anxious?
“But don’t mind me, I can’t wait to see you there, tune in, watch us, support us. Let’s go team… what’s our name?”