The former tennis pro and mom to son Theodore, 1, says she still loves the US Open — but only as a spectator these days
Going to the US Open looks a little different for Maria Sharapova these days. Instead of battling it out on the court with the best players in the world, she says she much prefers to watch from the stands.
"I love it," Sharapova, 35, says about being a spectator at the Grand Slam, which is now underway. "I love having an outsider's perspective. I love watching the new generations unfold, and the sport in general. In fact, I think the US Open is the only tennis event that I've been to in person since I retired. It's a really special one, with the energy of the crowds there."
The five-time Grand Slam championship, who won the US Open herself in 2006, announced her retirement in Feb. 2020 at age 32, and since then she says she's been loving her post professional career.
"I'm very happy with where I am at this stage of life," says the evian hydration ambassador, who became a mom to son Theodore in 2022. "I appreciate what the sport has taught me and where it's taken me, but I definitely love seeing it from the outside now."
This year at the US Open, Sharapova won't just be a spectator, but is also going to be the captain of the SS evian, which is a floating tennis court that will sail up and down the Hudson River during the men's finals on Sept. 10. Spectators can watch the finals from the ship, and even win a chance to volley with Sharapova herself.
"Evian has been one of my longest standing partnerships, and I've loved it and how it's evolved," Sharapova says. "They've also been one of the sponsors of the US Open for 35 years, and I always thought hydration was important when I was competing but it's almost even more important now that I'm a mother."
She continues, "You learn so many lessons as a professional tennis player, and one of the biggest ones is how to handle yourself whether you win or whether you lose. There are so many things you can't control, and that's OK. You have to learn to accept that, which for me was always a work in progress. But you also learn how you take care of your body, and ask yourself, are you eating nutritious foods? Are you drinking enough water? So all those components of being an athlete are just incredible educational tools for taking you to different parts of your life, like parenthood."
As for Theodore, whom she shares with her fiancé Alexander Gilkes, she says she loves watching his personality evolve.
"He just turned one, so it's the usual giggles, saying his first few words, and learning to wobble walk," she says.
She adds that striving for perfection, like she did for so many years on the courts, has taken a backseat now that she's a mom.
"Ultimately, after you do have a child, there are so many other more important responsibilities that you have to take care of. If I miss a workout one day, I give myself that break. Or if I want to be spoil myself and eat a cookie at midday randomly, then that's okay too. So I think it's finding the right moments of that balance."
And, Sharapova advises, don't be afraid to accept help!
"I have a lot of different business ventures, and still need to find time to be a mom. So I'm lucky to have lots of support through my husband and my family. But every week presents a new set of challenges!"
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