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How ‘Failed’ Act at Wimbledon 2004 Final Paved the Way for Maria Sharapova to Build $220 Million Net Worth

Dhruv Rupani

What is Maria Sharapova Doing Now?

Maria Sharapova will always be remembered for winning the Wimbledon 2004 women’s singles title before she even turned an adult. The 17-year-old Russian shocked the then defending champion, Serena Williams. Sharapova, who was hardly known at the time, became a household name across the globe overnight with that win. But it was her move after her winning moment that shocked fans on Centre Court, which eventually proved to be a masterstroke.

Wimbledon recently shared a reel on Instagram about Maria Sharapova’s 2004 win. Sharapova went to her box and hugged everyone emotionally, including her father Yuri. After that, she checked her bag and removed her cellphone before she could go up to give an interview and lift the trophy. The reason for that is that she wanted to contact her mother, who was travelling in an airplane at the time to New York.

Perhaps being in an ecstatic frame of mind did not make Maria Sharapova realise initially that she was still in a flight. Cellphones at the time did not have Wifi or the technology of today to be able to connect to someone who is many feet above the ground. Sharapova wanted to tell her mother about achieving the biggest goal of her career at such a young age.

In the post-match interview, when asked about that incident, Sharapova was quoted as saying –

“No, I did not get a signal. I tried calling her but it kept switching off. What’s wrong with it? I mean, technology, cmon!”

Later on, it was revealed that Maria Sharapova’s mom, Yelena was indeed watching the match from her flight on her small TV screen live. So when she saw Maria trying to reach her, she too was asking for help from a flight attendant so that she could talk to her. However, the call between them did not go through despite multiple attempts.

Ironically though, just a month after that phone signal incident, Maria Sharapova signed a deal with Motorola, which was one of the top phone companies at the time. So without realising, Sharapova completed perhaps what was the first marketing exercise of her career since her popularity shot up in no time and the whos who of the business and the tech world were watching too.

Max Eisenbud, who was from IMG, played a critical role in Maria Sharapova bagging $5 million in a 3-year deal, according to the New York Times. It was not the most lucrative deal, but for a 17-year-old, it was her first big move into the world of brand endorsements. And that opened up a huge source of income which turned out to be far bigger than her career prize money winnings eventually.

From there on, Maria Sharapova used those sponsor deals to invest in or set up businesses she is really passionate about. It is not only inspiring for anyone, but also a rarity in women’s tennis since only Serena Williams has made it bigger than her in terms of riches in the last 25 years.

How Did Maria Sharapova Transform Into a Better Businesswoman From Wimbledon Champion?

Maria Sharapova is estimated to have a net worth beyond $220 million today, according to Forbes. In a 2015 interview with CNBC, Sharapova claimed that more than the Motorola deal, it was a career-threatening injury in 2008 which compelled her to think and plan far ahead for a financially secure future. The 5-time Grand Slam champion feared that she might have never picked up the tennis racket again professionally.

“The first time I really started thinking about business and my own ventures was when I was going through my injury.

“I was 21 years old, I didn’t know if I’d be able to play again and I had made enough money to not have to work for the rest of my life and be able to support my family and be very happy.

“Candy wasn’t something that I had ever thought I would get into.

“I never knew anything about it except I had a big sweet tooth and that maybe one day I would develop it into a big brand. But I love to work, I love to do things, I love to learn,” Sharapova was quoted as saying in that interview.

Maria Sharapova was not the most talented on the tennis court nor knowledgeable. But her work ethic and desire to keep gaining learning from her own experiences and people around her, is what has made her a superstar in the world of business too.

Earlier this year, in an interaction with Bloomberg Originals, Sharapova famously said that to win in business, one needs to know how to lose since not everything you plan for, will go right and you may lose a lot of money in the process of making a lot of it.

This mantra works in tennis as well since it is always about the process more than the results and even incremental adjustments on a consistent basis, help a professional player improve their game and overcome competition regularly. The Motorola deal worked so well for Maria Sharapova that she went on to sign bigger deals with the likes of Nike, Canon, Clear Shampoo, Palmolive, Porsche, Evian, Avon and NetJets.

Post Edited By:Dhruv Rupani

About the author

Dhruv Rupani

Dhruv Rupani


Dhruv Rupani is a Tennis Editor at The SportsRush. He is a tennis tragic in every sense and would go to any length to defend it against anyone if compared negatively to other sports. A huge Rafael Nadal supporter, Dhruv believes tennis is very much like life in most aspects. He started following the sport at the age of 10. Translating his love for sports into a living, he has over 8 years of experience in the digital media space. He aims to entertain and educate people about sports by presenting the best updates to them. When not covering tennis, Dhruv loves to spend time watching comedy shows and movies, reading inspiring books and doesn't mind trying his hand at cooking sometimes!

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