CAPE TOWN – Former World Number One Maria Sharapova is counting down the days till she makes her professional return to tennis following a ruling that her suspension being reduced by nine months against a two year doping ban.
Sharapova was banned in June this year after testing positive for the drug meldonium during the Australian Open.
While she’s counting down the days, we reflect on some her greatest accomplishments in the world of tennis.
1. One of the legends in tennis, John McEnroe, has dubbed Sharapova “one of the greatest competitors our sport’s ever seen”.
2. Sharapova is ranked second highest in earnings, behind Serena Williams. thus far, she has won over $36 million in winnings from 35 WTA singles tour titles.
3. She became the first Russian to ascend to World Number One in 2005, which she was overtaken by Lindsey Davenport a week later. But that didn’t not put her down as she reclaimed the position a month later but couldn’t hold onto the postion long. She again became World Number One in 2007 forseven weeks, in 2008 for a week and for month in 2012.
4. Her winning streak is one of longevity. From 2004 to 2015, she has won one WTA singles event starting in Switzerland and ending at the Australian Open in 2015.
5. In what was deemed the greatest upset in tennis history Sharapova defeated Serena Williams at the 2004 Wimbledon final. She would go on to complete career Grand Slam by winning each of the four major tournaments, namely the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
6. She became the first female Russian flag-bearer at 2012 London Olympics. Her performance at the Olympics was unparalleled as she defeated her opponents in straight sets until she was defeated by Serena Williams in her most disappointing outing.
7. A documentary of the Tennis Channel ranked Sharapova 71st in the 100 Greatest of All Time which was aired in 2012. However, her ranking may have risen higher since it aired.
8. She is ranked eighth overall having won 183 Grand Slam titles. She is the fourth active tennis player in 2016.
9. With an annual salary of $29 million, ranking her 26th among athletes according to a 2015 Forbes list. She has endorsements with Porsche, Tiffany’s and Tag Heuer to mention and has her own business, Sugarpova.
10. In 2007, she was appointed a UN Goodwill Ambassador with a focus on the recovery and development programme into Chernobyl.