Coach Gabe Jaramillo says it didn’t take long for him to realize that Maria Sharapova was a special player. When Sharapova came to the Nick Bollettieri Academy, Jaramillo thought she was introverted but someone with a great level of confidence.
Also, one of the first things that stood about Sharapova was her having the mentality of a champion. “She was a special player, since she was 9 years old”, Jaramillo told Punto de Break, as quoted on Sportskeeda.
“She seemed like a harmless little girl until she picked up the racket. There she showed her champion mentality. She always hit the ball with a lot of confidence. Maria was always a very confident girl, she was very introverted, but she had the greatest confidence in the world, that’s what helped her get where she did.”
Sharapova on her tennis beginnings
Once it became evident that Sharapova was extremely talented for tennis, her family made sacrificed and relocated from Russia to the United States to give her better chances of succeeding in tennis.
“Both of my parents are actually from Belarus, and because of the Chernobyl explosion and my mother was pregnant with me at the time, they moved to Siberia, so I was born there. At the age of two, we moved to Sochi, a much more comfortable city, and that’s where I started playing tennis,” Sharapova said on the Never Stand Still podcast.
“At the age of five, I went to this little clinic in Moscow that was held by Martina Navratilova and she told my father we need to get out of Russia. These circumstances for an athlete are much better in the US, particularly in Florida, and my father never looked back.
He talked to my mom. She took a huge chance, and my father and I went to Florida on a plane without her. “In hindsight, I think those are the years that shape your story. I was so lucky that I did fall in love with this sport with hitting forehands and backhands.”