Maria Sharapova is amongst the few players who achieved success at a very early stage of their career. A Wimbledon champion at 17 years of age, and the World No. 1 at 18. While Sharapova continues to be a prominent part of the sport’s history, her career was once on the verge of ending. Apparently because of her father and coach, Yuri Sharapov.
Going back in time, the year 2004 was one of the most special years for the Russian Fed Cup team. Having their best performance, the team went on to win their maiden Fed Cup title. While the whole team celebrated the win, a statement by the team coach, given prior to Russia’s semifinal clash made it to the headlines. As per the coach, Larisa Neiland, Sharapova, a member of the team, had her biggest problem in the form of her father.
When the father caused a problem for Maria Sharapova
Having a massive win over Argentina in the quarterfinals, the 4th seeded Russia was next set to play the semifinals against Austria. All set to kick off their semifinal next morning, team’s coach Larisa Neiland indulged in a media interaction on the eve of the Fed-Cup semifinals in Moscow.
During the conversation, she opened up about her concern over Sharapova‘s father. A former doubles World No. 1 herself, Neiland expressed her concern for Sharapova’s father’s co-existence with others.
“Maria’s main problem is her father and I just don’t see how he would co-exist with other girls’ parents and team officials,” she said.
Going further, she recalled Sharapova’s 2004 WTA Tour Championship win. Taking that as an example, Neiland further criticized Sharapova’s father for his behavior. Especially against Russian players. Expressing her concern of Yuri Sharapov working with the team, Neiland further added, “Every time Maria was playing a Russian girl, her father’s behaviour was simply outrageous, nasty and out of control. He basically tells everyone to get lost. I just don’t see how he could work with the rest of us.”
This wasn’t the only case where Sharapova faced difficulties because of her father. During the 2005 season, Sharapova was given warnings on various occasions. Reason? Her father was holding up bananas and beverages during her changeovers. Two years later in 2007, she also received a $2000 fine at the Australian Open for on-court coaching by her father.