Happy birthday, Maria Sharapova

Thursday April 19th, 2012

Maria Sharapova turns 25 on Thursday. At least that's what our records indicate. Given what happened this week, Sharapova could have lied about her birthday. I wouldn't put it past her. She could be 40 for all we know.

But it's odd to be reminded that yes, Maria Sharapova -- the Grande Dame of tennis -- is only 25 years old. It feels like she's been around forever and, well, she sort of has. She broke out at the young age of 17, where as the 13th seed she beat Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams to win her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2004. Sharapova has continued to build on that (while building Sharapova, Inc., of course), tacking on two more Slam titles and a stint at No. 1. Now at 25 years old, she's into her "second career", still rebuilding her game since shoulder surgery knocked her out in 2008.

So we all know the post-2004-Wimbledon-winning Sharapova well. But what about before she became a thing? Here's a look back at the early days, before young Maria Sharapova became "Maria Sharapova". You know, the one who freaked out the world when she decided to throw on a wig.


Sharapova/Dulko 2002

Bryan Bahr/Getty Images

Sharapova's first full year on tour was 2002, and like many young players looking for match play, the now doubles-allergic Russian teamed up with Gisela Dulko at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells. They won one match. Maria ain't allergic to doubles for nothin'.


Sharapova/Harkleroad 2003

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Though, she kept on trying to play doubles. Here she is with fellow Bollittieri Academy kid, Ashely Harkleroad at the 2003 NASDAQ-100 Open in Miami. By their facial expressions, I'm guessing Maria hadn't exactly improved her game by then.


Sharapova Tokyo

Toru Yamanaka/AFP

In October of 2003, Sharapova wins her first WTA Title in Tokyo, Japan. In return, Japan makes Maria engage in quite a few ridiculous exhibitions over the years.


Sharapova Laptop

Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP

Always the perfect spokeswoman, here she is introducing laptop technology to the world in January 2004. As any self-respecting blogger would say, "Thanks, Maria!"


Sharapova flat top

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

At the 2004 French Open, Sharapova debuted a new "skater" look. Just kidding. She didn't. But she totally should have.


Sharapova/Golovin 2004

Warren Little/Getty Images

By the time the 2004 grass court season rolled around, Sharapova was ranked No. 15 in the world and she captured her first grass court title in Birmingham, beating another Russian-born fresh faced teenager, 16-year old Tatiana Golovin, in the final. In so doing, Maria introduced her patented "look o' smug".


Sharapova/Kirilenko 2004

Warren Little/Getty Images

You'd be smug too if you also won the doubles event with your good friend Maria Kirilenko. That's right, folks, Maria Sharapova has a doubles title. She actually has three career titles, having won two in 2003 with Tamarine Tanasugarn.


Sharapova WTA

Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Very true, Maria. A woman does have to do what she's gotta do.


Sharapova Wimbledon 2004

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

So two weeks later, she did this and a star was born.

Happy 25th birthday, Maria. May you fool us all with faux haircuts and non-existent doubles talent for many years to come.

PS: Oddly, the below picture popped up while I was searching for old Sharapova pics. Random, yet also appropriate:


Henin Hardenne Wedding

Benoit Doppagne/AFP

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