Sharapova first hit the tennis scene in November 2000, and she won the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships in the girls’ 16 division at the age of just 13.
First French Open Quarterfinal
Sharapova qualified for the quarterfinal of the French Open Grand Slam for the first time in 2004, though she lost to Paola Suarez. She was also ranked in the top 20 in WTA world rankings because of her performances and reaching the third round of both these Tier I events: Qatar Telecom German Open and Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
It was in 2004 when Sharapova won her third career title at DFS Classic at Wimbledon, defeating Tatiana Golovin in the finals. She reached her first grand slam semifinal when she defeated Ai Sugiyama at 17 years of age. In the semifinal, she defeated former champion and fifth seed Lindsay Davenport.
Won Wimbledon Final
In one of the most stunning upsets, Maria Sharapova defeated defending champion and top seed Serena Williams in the 2004 finals to win her first Grand Slam singles title and to become the third-youngest woman to win Wimbledon and the second Russian. She had made her place in the top 10 rankings for the first time. During the same year, she defeated Serena Williams again in her debut WTA tour championship.
2005, Being In The Top 3
At the start of 2005, Sharapova reached a Grand Slam semifinal for the second time in her career, though she lost to defending champion Serena Williams in the Australian Open. However, in February she won back-to-back tournaments making her way to the top 3 for the first time. In the same period, she also beat Venus Williams, the former world No. 1, to reach the final of the Tier 1 NASDAQ-100 Open.
Becoming World No. 1
In 2005 Sharapova became world No. 1 because of the injuries sustained by the previous world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, leaving Sharapova to defend fewer points and becoming the next No. 1 on August 22, 2005. However, her top ranking lasted for a week only and Davenport reclaimed the position. Sharapova subsequently once again regained the position and retained it for six weeks.
U.S. Open Champion, 2006
2006 did not start well for Sharapova with losses in semifinals at the Australian Open and a rematch at the Dubai Tennis Championship. The tennis player however regained her confidence by defeating Kim Clijsters for the first time and winning the Acura Classic. Above all, she defeated Amélie Mauresmo in the semifinals and then Justine Henin in the final to win the U.S. Open and her second Grand Slam singles title.
In the autumn of 2006, Sharapova won titles back-to-back at the Generali Ladies Linz and the Zurich Open. She also won all the round-robin matches of the WTA Tour to extend her winning streak to 19 matches and finish the year as world No. 2, her top year-end finish to date.
Highest-Paid Female Athlete In 2006
In March 2006, Maria Sharapova was listed by an American magazine, Forbes, as the highest-paid female athlete globally, with over $18 million annual earnings. In fact, Forbes magazine recognized her with this title for seven consecutive years. Between June 2006 and June 2007, she was ranked third in the annual listing of the Top 20-Earning Stars Under 25 with the earnings of $23 million during the period.