In December 2021, Maria Sharapova and British businessman Alexander Gilkes revealed that they were engaged.
Maria Sharapova was born in 1987 in Belarus, but she started playing tennis as a young child in Sochi, where her parents had moved after the Chernobyl disaster. Her father, Yuri, took her to Florida when she was only seven years old to give her the best chance to become a professional tennis player. This happened quickly, as young Sharapova turned pro at the age of 14, and after a year on the tour, she was already inside the top 200.
In her early career, Maria Sharapova was often compared to Anna Kournikova: both players were Russian, they were both successful and famous at a very young age, and they also shared a similar physical appearance, being both tall and blonde. Young Maria always dismissed the comparison, as Kournikova had never claimed a professional singles title and, through the years, had become more of a model than a tennis player, a turn of career that Sharapova was not interested in.
Although she competed under the Russian flag during her career – and is the only Russian woman to have won a career Grand Slam – Sharapova has lived in the US since she came to the country as a young tennis prodigy