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World No. 1 Maria Sharapova Enters 2007 Family Circle Cup

January 30, 2007 01:24 PM
Maria Sharapova, the most recognizable and highest paid female athlete in the world, has officially entered the 2007 Family Circle Cup. At only nineteen years old, this two-time Grand Slam champion returns to Charleston with stellar career marks including 15 singles titles, a 239-56 win-loss record and over $9 million in winnings. Yesterday she regained the World No. 1 ranking, marking the 8th week in her career that she has held the top spot in women’s professional tennis. Since computer rankings were started in 1973, only 15 women have achieved the status of World No. 1 on the women’s professional tennis tour. This year, the Family Circle Cup is proud to feature four members of that elite club who will be joining a host of other top players battling for one of the most coveted trophies in women’s tennis. With the addition of World No. 1 Maria Sharapova, this year’s Family Circle Cup player field now boasts four of the top five players in the world including Justine Henin-Hardenne, Amélie Mauresmo and Svetlana Kuznetsova. The 2007 Family Circle Cup is scheduled for April 7th-15th at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

“Maria is one of the most sought-after players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, and her commitment to play this event takes the Family Circle Cup to a whole new level,” commented Robin Reynolds, Family Circle Cup Tournament Director. “Not only is she the world’s top female player, but Maria is also a celebrity that transcends tennis, and we are very pleased that she’ll be here in April.”

“I have very pleasant memories of my trip to Charleston four years ago and I’m looking forward to playing in the tournament and enjoying some time in the city,” noted reigning US Open Champion / World No. 1 player Maria Sharapova. “The Family Circle Cup has a great reputation on the Tour, especially with the players, so I’m excited to be coming back and starting my clay court season at such a wonderful event.”

Maria Sharapova first competed in the Family Circle Cup as a World No. 167 ranked qualifier in 2003 where she reached the first round of the main draw. Her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour victory came later that year at the Japan Open, then another in Quebec City, which propelled her through the rankings to finish at No. 32 in the world.

Sharapova thrust herself onto a world stage in 2004 when she claimed her first major title as the second youngest ladies champion in the open era at Wimbledon, then won the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships leading to a year-end career-high No. 4 ranking. She also received two major awards that year including the WTA Tour’s “Player of the Year” and “Most Improved Player of the Year”.

She repeated as the World’s No. 4 player in 2005 by reaching the quarterfinals or better in all 15 events in which she competed (including all four Grand Slams), winning three finals including her first Tier I title at Tokyo (Pan Pacific), reaching the semifinals of the Tour Championships, and becoming the 15th player in history to appear at the No. 1 spot which she held for a total of 7 weeks that year.

Sharapova’s best year to date came in 2006 as she earned a year-end World No. 2 ranking by reaching the semifinals or better in 13 of 15 starts, claiming 5 titles including three Tier I events and her second major at the US Open, and completed a 19-match win streak with a semifinal appearance at the Tour Championships. Her 59 match wins (second best in 2006) helped her to surpass the 200 career victory mark as she became the highest-earning Russian in Tour history, in addition to being named the Whirlpool “6th Sense Player of the Year”.

In addition to her many on-court tennis accolades, Maria Sharapova has become a worldwide celebrity who has appeared on the covers of Sports Illustrated & ESPN magazines, was listed in Forbes magazine as one of the richest female athletes in the world, and was highlighted as one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People. She has also appeared in several other magazines including Vogue Italia, W, YM, Sport (as one of the Athletes to Watch Out for in the 21st Century), and Teen People (as one of 20 Teens Who Will Change the World), as well as other major publications such as USA Today. Sharapova has made appearances on numerous television shows such as NBC’s Today and Tonight Show, Entertainment Tonight, Live with Regis and Kelly, Inside Edition, ESPN’s Sportscenter and Cold Pizza, Fox and Friends, CBS’s Early Show and Craig Kilborn, MTV’s TRL, Access Hollywood and the Tour’s Magazine Show, among others.

The 2007 Family Circle Cup will be held April 7th – 15th at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, South Carolina. The Family Circle Tennis Center is a public facility owned by the City of Charleston and operated by Family Circle Magazine that hosts a variety of events including concerts, festivals, tennis events and other special activities throughout the year. With over 21 million readers, Family Circle is one of the most widely read monthly magazines in America and is one of 14 leading subscription magazines owned by Meredith Corporation. The Tennis Center features a 10,200 seat stadium, a Grand Lawn, 17 tennis courts, all lighted for night play, a racquet club featuring a full service pro shop and locker room facilities and a full service event management staff capable of handling all aspects of an event including ticketing, operations, sales, advertising, marketing, public relations, and food & beverage. Family Circle Cup tickets are available now via phone, on-line, or at Ticketmaster outlets. For tickets or more information on the Family Circle Cup or Tennis Center please call (843) 856-7900 or visit us online at www.familycirclecup.com.




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