(February 6, 2014) While the world knows Maria Sharapova’s story as champion tennis player, not many know how her career as a tennis star started… or where. Sharapova came back to her hometown back to visit her first court in Sochi where she will tell the story of her early years in tennis and what it means to play. Maria reopened the court for kids Tennis academy after refurbishment that includes a tennis wall telling the story of Sharapova’s career.
Nike recently refurbished the court for the Evgeniy Kafelnikov Tennis Academy and added a mural that illustrates Sharapova’s rise from a young star to one of the world’s elite tennis athletes.
“It’s incredible to travel back to my roots and still see so much joy and passion from kids for the game today,” Sharapova said. “I’m honored to officially re-open the court for play and I hope that these young stars will continue to develop and enhance their technique and see that with dedication and motivation, you can rise to the top.”
On the mural is an message:
This is more than a line on a wall. It’s where a little girl hit her first thousand tennis balls. It’s daring to go further. It’s defying the doubters. It’s deciding what you want. Then doing something about it. This is not just a line on a wall. It’s where legends are made.
As part of a court dedication ceremony in her honor, Sharapova, along with the help of local girls from the academy, reopened the court for play and spoke passionately about her early career, the court’s significance in her life and what it means to be back home.
“I lived here as a girl for five years so my tennis memories all come back to this court and this wall,” said Sharapova. ”It’s such a special occasion to be back here. Both as a part of this global moment and to be able to come back to where it all started for me.”
Sharapova is excited for the competition to start on her own turf, as she has experienced first-hand how incredible it is to compete on a global stage.
Photos courtesy of Nike