Maria Sharapova talks about her determination and her fight for equality. She is a 31-year-old tennis player.
Sharapova arrived in the USA from Russia with her father at the age of six. At that time the family had no money. Sharapova has won every single tennis Grand Slam title. Sporting endorsements have turned her into the highest-paid sportswoman in the world for 11 continuous years.
In an interview with Glamour UK, Maria opens up about her life and her views on equality.
The reporter asked the tennis player the role of determination in her life.
Maria answered, “The sport itself – from starting at a very young age – is all about repetition, focus and grind because it was all about numbers. The more you did, the better you became, the more confident you became at a shot or stroke. That mentality grew over time and it’s taking me to different parts of my career in business with Sugapova, for example. There are so many things in a sporting career you learn along the way that sometimes don’t help you with the sport itself but outside the sport.”
The tennis player stressed on determination and the crucial role it plays in one’s life.
She said, “Keep doing it. Sometimes it only takes a few people to tell you they believe in you and for all the others that don’t, it’s the people that know you and matter to you. Their determination is much more valuable because of the years they spent with you and they know you inside and out.”
A strong body image
Sharapova has always promoted a healthy, strong body image. She explained in her interview how her journey had been like.
She said, “I was a lot taller and very skinny when I was young, so I was wobbly, and I didn’t always feel stable. I was an odd one out. I was doing well and training so much and beating a lot of older girls and I don’t think that was very popular. It felt like I was on a mission to become a professional athlete and that was waking up early in the morning and training and going to sleep early. I didn’t have access to a lot of things. There weren’t many sleepovers or trips to the mall. So, I wasn’t really ever affected by that.”
Equality across all sports
Maria Sharapova has been fighting for equality for some time now. Although she is a champion, she still receives many sexist questions from reporters. People have been calling her either too emotional or not emotional enough. She says that men are not asked these questions.
She said, “I’ve been prepared ever since I was young. With tennis, we have to go to a press conference whether we’ve won or lost with every single match. Journalists can come in there and there’s no boundaries, guide or rulebook. They can ask you whatever you want whether it’s professional or personal. Sometimes you go in after a match and you don’t get one question about the match.”
Adding further, “I’m there to try and win a tournament but that’s a very small part of it. You have to go in there and be professional. Questions can get tricky and they might not fall in line with what you have prepared for them to ask you and that’s ok. That’s how life is. You get things thrown at you and you have to deliver and accept them.”
Sharapova didn’t specifically point at one sexist question that irritates her. She keeps a very progressive opinion about questions like these.
She told the reporter, “No. If you look at the trajectory of an athlete’s career, it’s such a small part of our life. Yes, you get faced with questions that are uncomfortable or you don’t feel good about, but you have to face them and give them your perspective.”
Pay scale equality
The Grand Slam winner is advocating for equality in all aspects. She believes that pay scale equality should prevail across the entire board and all sports.
She said, “I still feel like it’s a debate. Female athletes are fighting for that equality, which is the right thing to do but is it right to still be doing it in 2019? No! It’s another thing we have to fight for, and we do because it’s part of our profession and part of our life. I want equality across the entire board and across all sports.”
Sharapova starts Sugarpova
Recently, Maria Sharapova has started a new venture. She is the founder of confectionery line, Sugarpova. She is now managing a business. Sharapova commented on how it is like to run a business.
She said, “I love being a female businesswoman in the candy world because it’s completely different to my day job. What’s been interesting is coming into a career in which I didn’t have a lot of knowledge. I’ve learnt a lot; I know what works and what I want to do with it.”
She also explained that owning a business is a huge learning platform.
She said, “I’ve learnt to take responsibility. When you’re on a call and a lot of the time they’re a lot older than I am that are much more experienced in the industry, but I feel like I have to take the lead and I’ve learnt how to handle that. I want to give people the space to contribute to my company, but you are the driver of it.”
Sharapova continued, “No task is too small. No matter how high you are, how you’ve grown, you can never delegate too many things. If it’s something important to you, you get it done.”
Lastly, the tennis player talked about her empowerment mantra. She believes that it is important to empower one’s own self. The empowerment is what drives you to achieve big goals.
She said, “Be yourself in a world where we’re influenced by so many people and by so many things. We sometimes look track of what we care about and what we want to do, of our own opinion. Ask yourself is that what I want to do, say, go about my life. With peer pressure today, you want to be part of pact, of a group but ultimately you have to be happy in your own skin and it takes looking in the mirror and asking yourself the question, am I happy with the choices I’m making?”
Maria Sharapova will be playing against Parmentier on 2 July in Wimbledon Open.