For tennis fans that still remember Anna Kournikova and her failures as a tennis player but success as a beauty, it came as a big surprise when Maria Sharapova starting winning Slams-repeatedly. Sharapova has been the most surprising tennis star to come from Russia, amidst a crowd of beautiful yet talented stars like Maria Kirilenko, Elena Dementieva and the highly underrated Dinara Safina. There are probably a dozen or so names left off of that list, because that’s how deep and talented the women’s game is for the Russian players. The problem that was introduced with Kournikova was starlets that became more known for their beauty than their actual play, with some fading as fast as they came into the game.
Maria is the proud owner of 5 Grand Slam titles, making her one of the most decorated female tennis players not named Williams. And speaking of Williams, Serena is still her biggest rival. Head to head Sharapova is losing, but for the most part she holds her own better than any other player when it comes to facing Serena. Maria does not back down, not even from the best. Consistency hasn’t been her strong point over the years due to several injuries, which she has amazingly fought through and come back from. Recently she had to withdraw from the U.S. Open due to a leg injury that was aggravated during practice, and allegedly has been battling for a while now. A lot of tennis fans have come out in hordes claiming that she is not tough enough and should push through it. Some even claim laziness on her part with not wanting to compete in an Open that she hasn’t won since 2006.
What many forget is that tennis is a lot of constant movement, and they also overlook that both Venus Williams and Serena often take time off from tennis not just for injuries, but for personal time. They have often been accused of being part time tennis players and part time celebrities. But to the point, Sharapova is everything you would want in a champion, so lazy, scared of a challenge, or faking an injury is not in her pedigree. She has single handedly turned the female Russian tennis game into a respectable force, after the laughing stock it had nearly become when Kournikova left. A good example of the damage done by Anna would be how the media still describes her as a tennis ‘star’, without a single major to her name. Maria is very much the tennis player that Kournikova should have been, and a formidable rival to the Williams sisters.