Former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova moved to the United States at a very young age and that played a big role in her becoming a tennis pro and eventually one of the best players in the world. Martina Navratilova, a former world No.1, saw Sharapova when she was just 5 and immediately told her father to move to the United States as there they would have much better conditions. Sharapova moved to Florida, where she was trained by legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri.
“Both of my parents are actually from Belarus, and because of the Chernobyl explosion and my mother was pregnant with me at the time, they moved to Siberia, so I was born there. At the age of two, we moved to Sochi, a much more comfortable city, and that’s where I started playing tennis,” Sharapova said on the Never Stand Still podcast.
“At the age of five, I went to this little clinic in Moscow that was held by Martina Navratilova and she told my father we need to get out of Russia. These circumstances for an athlete are much better in the US, particularly in Florida, and my father never looked back.
He talked to my mom. She took a huge chance, and my father and I went to Florida on a plane without her. “In hindsight, I think those are the years that shape your story. I was so lucky that I did fall in love with this sport with hitting forehands and backhands”.
Sharapova: If I didn’t feel pressure, I’d be worried
Sharapova noted that feeling the pressure when you enter the court is “normal” but added that it’s the strong mindset that helps you overcome everything on the court.
“When you get to a stadium court, of course, you are gonna feel the pressure. If I didn’t feel pressure, I’d be worried; you have to overcome the butterflies, those moments of uncertainty no matter what stage you are in your life, so having my feet on the ground, but because my parents helped shape my mindset, it was really important,” Sharapova explained.
“My mom reminded me that no matter how successful I became, it was about entertainment for me, it was about the impact and the improvement that I was making every single day.”