Tennis headliner Maria Sharapova found herself in the headlines for a drug violation in 2016 that rocked the tennis world and led to her 15-month suspension. Sharapova claimed a newly banned substance was never taken to enhance her on-court performance and was determined not to let the incident end her tennis career, which has included five Grand Slam tournament titles. Her return to the circuit earlier this year was marked by true grit and occurred not much before the release of “Unstoppable,” which recounts her move to Florida at age 7 to enroll at a tennis academy and her emergence as one of the most recognizable stars of her sport (she is 6 ft. 2 in. tall with cover-girl looks that have landed her endorsements and modeling assignments).
Here’s an excerpt from Unstoppable:
“People often ask me: Are you Russian or American? I could be American and speak English like an American and get all the references and all the jokes because I really grew up in Florida and was raised by my parents and my coaches but also by movies and television, by the scrappy counterpuncher and all the evil bullies in 'The Karate Kid' and by the all-knowing wisdom of Mike and Carol in 'The Brady Bunch.' My humor is less Gogol than Seinfeld, and my smarts are less Dostoyevsky than 'Full House.' But I never stopped and never will stop feeling Russian. When I’m down a break point deep in the third set of a match, I am Russian. But more – it’s deep in my soul, in the history and the heritage of my family. I feel it every time I go back to Gomel in Belarus to see my grandparents, or to Sochi to see old friends, or to Moscow to play in tournaments. It’s the language, the sound of the people on the street, not just the voices and the words but the mannerisms, the mentality, and the assumptions. It can be hard to define home, especially when you have led a life as crazy and all over the place as mine, but you know it when you’re there.”