Famous Wimbledon champion now totally unrecognisable as she returns 20 years on

Maria Sharapova, once a global tennis sensation, has undergone a significant transformation since retiring from her illustrious career.

Sharapova shot to fame in 2004 when she won Wimbledon at the tender age of 17, defeating Lindsey Davenport in the final. This victory set the stage for an extraordinary career that saw her clinch two French Open titles, as well as the Australian and US Open - not to mention her Olympic gold in 2012.

However, Sharapova's accolades weren't confined to the tennis court. In 2006, Maxim named the Russian athlete 'the hottest athlete in the world' for four consecutive years.

That same year, she featured in a bikini photoshoot for the Valentine's Day issue of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

But fans who followed Sharapova during her prime might be surprised by her new look. The tennis star retired over four years ago after the 2020 Australian Open, and her appearance has changed significantly since her last match, reports the Mirror.

The 37 year old has abandoned her iconic blonde hair, now sporting a much darker hairstyle. She has been photographed at the Monaco Grand Prix, looking vastly different from her tennis-playing days. And just this week, she returned to Wimbledon 20 years after her stunning triumph, heading onto the famous centre court with her son for a visit and declaring: "My heart is full."

Since leaving the sport, Sharapova has successfully transitioned into business. In 2022, she joined the Board of Directors of fashion brand Moncler. She also advises brands such as Naked Retail and Bright, among other ventures.

Maria Sharapova walks in the Pitlane prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2024
Maria Sharapova returns to Wimbledon with her son

Previously, she had shared images from last year's Cannes Lions festival, as well as a holiday to Lake Como in Italy. Her loyal fan base of 4.5 million followers did not hesitate in complimenting the athlete on her new look.

Since retirement, Sharapova has welcomed a son named Theodore, born in July 2022. She now resides in Florida and was once one of the highest-earning athletes in the world, boasting career winnings of £31 million and sponsorship deals worth a staggering £230 million.

Sharapova's illustrious career took a knock in 2016 when she received a 15-month suspension after failing a drug test for meldonium. She owned up to the mistake but maintained she mistakenly took the drug without realising it had been banned by WADA.

Sharapova isn't completely distanced from sporting ventures, though. She took part in John McEnroe's Pickleball Slam tournament in February this year.