Professional tennis celebrity Sharapova relates her remarkable immigration saga and writes candidly about her career, family, and personal life.
The author’s father, Yuri, became interested in tennis by chance as an adult. When young Maria started tagging along with him to watch matches, Yuri recognized her natural ability and decided he would devote his life to developing her into the world’s top female tennis player. Yuri persuaded his wife to surrender seeing Maria for at least a couple of years, and he and 7-year-old Maria spent the family savings on airplane tickets to Florida, where top youth tennis camps, especially the IMG Academy, trained future stars. Yuri and Maria spoke no English, did not contact any of the academies in advance, and had no idea how to find a residence, but through a series of fortunate, unlikely occurrences, Maria gained entry into IMG. With fierce determination, she drilled every day with her father and coaches, and eventually her mother was able to obtain a rare visa to enter the U.S., reuniting the family. After a major growth spurt, the young Sharapova quickly ascended the youth ranks. At age 17, she defeated the top seed, Serena Williams, to win Wimbledon, becoming the third-youngest woman to win the prestigious tournament. Williams appears often throughout the remainder of the book, as she becomes Sharapova’s chief rival and the most dominant force in the women’s game. For tennis players and fans, the memoir is filled with solid insights about on-the-court strategy and off-the-court psychology. “I can get fancy and sweet about it,” she writes, “but at bottom my motivation is simple: I want to beat everyone….Ribbons and trophies get old, but losing lasts.” For readers with no interest in tennis, the author delivers an impressive immigration tale, an inspiring coming-of-age narrative, and a host of useful advice on navigating celebrity culture.
Sharapova demonstrates consistent dedication and impressive wisdom for her age.