HOMETOWN: Bradenton, Fla.
LATEST GIG: Wimbledon
•Why you know her: Most ear-shattering grunt in women’s tennis (see box), rivaling previous champ Monica Seles. Also, with U.S. Open Aug. 25-Sept. 7, one of the most rapidly improving players on the tour. The teen from Siberia reached the fourth round at Wimbledon.
•Designing woman: “I help design my own tennis clothes,” says the 6-ft., 130-lb. athlete, who often whips off fashion sketches to relax. (She also unwinds with yoga, aromatherapy—and stamp collecting.) “Watch out in the U.S. Open—[my outfit] will be pink.”
•Guilty pleasures: “Strawberry ice cream, caramel frappucinos and chocolate. I love to eat, and if I could, I’d eat every second of my life.”
•Kourni-clone? Comparisons to Anna Kournikova, her competitively challenged compatriot, “don’t really matter to me,” says Maria. “I try to do my thing.” Adds her father, Yuri: “They’re both Russian, both blonde and both play tennis. That’s about all they have in common.”
•Doubles fault: “There’s no boyfriend,” says Sharapova, explaining that she just doesn’t have time. “I have many friends.”
•Not-so-secret admirer: Tennis commentator Bud Collins, who calls her the Siberian Siren. Says Collins: “I think she’s the most refreshing player to come along in years. No excuses. No shyness. And she just loves what she’s doing.”