“I didn’t see my mom for two years” – Maria Sharapova on moving to the United States without her mother

Maria Sharapova with her mother (inset)
Maria Sharapova with her mother (inset)

Former tennis player Maria Sharapova recently shed some light on her experience of living away from her mother in the United States during childhood.

Sharapova took up tennis professionally in 2001 when she was only 14 years old. She competed on the women's circuit till February 2020, winning a total of 36 singles titles, including five at the Grand Slams and one at the Year-end championships. She also held the World No. 1 ranking for 21 weeks.

Born in Russia, Sharapova moved to Florida with her father Yuri at the age of five. Her mother Yelena didn't accompany her to the United States and stayed back.

The five-time Grand Slam champion featured in a recent episode of the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard podcast. She revealed that she didn't meet Yelena in the first couple of years after moving out.

"My mom didn’t join me for the first two years. I didn’t see her for two years. It’s very interesting looking back at it because I’m now a mother of a 16-month-old and I cannot imagine that type of separation," Maria Sharapova said. (13:23)

The 36-year-old stated that her mother, rather than regretting the disconnect, looked at the brighter side of things. She said:

"It was a world of unknown simply because visas were so difficult to get at that time as they are now by the way. But she just put so much emphasis on the fact that, ‘What an amazing gift that her husband and daughter had the chance to go pursue a sport in the United States.’ I think she looked at it from that perspective." (13:47)

Maria Sharapova - "It was letters of writing to my mother"

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova further expressed disappointment over not having the luxury of internet connectivity in the late 1990s. She revealed that she wrote letters to her mother Yelena, saying:

"There’s a part of me that also thinks that we didn’t have that direct connection with Facetime. My dad didn’t have a cell phone, I didn’t have a cell phone. So, it was letters, like physical letters of writing to my mother. And not that makes it easier or okay but I think there was a sense of ‘We’ll see each other.’" (14:03)

Sharapova also opined video calls over electronic devices would have helped a great deal in bridging the emotional gap between her and her mother.

"But I think that if we had that daily ‘see each other on video’, it almost forms a closer bond and you constantly think ‘When are we going to see each other?’ So it feels like it could’ve been helpful but it was challenging for my mother," Maria Sharapova said. (14:22)