Maria Sharapova reacts to Russia, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine | Tennis 2022

Tennis great Maria Sharapova has broken her silence on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and put her money where her mouth is.

Former tennis star Maria Sharapova has joined the ranks of Russian athletes hitting back at her homeland’s invasion of Ukraine.

The 34-year-old five-time grand slam champion is one of Russia’s most successful athletic exports. But Sharapova, who retired in 2020, has lashed out at the war in Ukraine and pledged to donate to the Save The Children’s crisis relief fund.

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“With each day that goes by, I am more and more heartbroken and deeply saddened by the images and stories of families and children affected by this escalating crisis in Ukraine,” she wrote on Instagram.

“I am donating to Save the Children’s crisis relief fund, an organisation working tirelessly to provide food, water, and aid kits to support those in need.

“Please join me in making a donation. I pray for PEACE and send my love and support to all those affected.”

Sharapova was among a group of the best players of her era and her marketability saw her retire second on the all-time list of female career earners in tennis.

Forbes reported the five-time major winner is just one of four female athletes to have earned $20 million in a year.

Sharapova walked away from tennis with staggering career earnings from prize money, endorsements and appearances totalling $325 million, according to Forbes.

The figure ranks her second all-time among female athletes, behind only Serena Williams ($350 million), and came from endorsement deals with Nike, Evian, Porsche and Tag Heuer.

Sharapova’s family moved from Russia to the US in 1994 to learn tennis at the famed IMG Academy in Florida and they reportedly live in Los Angeles now.

Sharapova isn’t the first Russian athlete to slam the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Late last month, men’s tennis world number six Andrey Rublev wrote “no war please” on the camera after a win in Dubai.

“Watching the news from home, waking up here in Mexico, was not easy,” he said. “By being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world. We play in so many different countries. It’s just not easy to hear all this news. I’m all for peace.”

World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev also called “for peace in the world, for peace between countries.”

Similarly, Russia’s top-ranked women’s player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova joined in, adding: “Personal ambitions or political motives cannot justify violence. This takes away the future not only from us, but also from our children.”

Ice hockey superstar Alexander Ovechkin also responded to the war previously.

“I have family back in Russia and it is scary moments. But we can’t do anything. We just hope it going to be end soon and everything is going to be all right,” Ovechkin said.

“Please, no more war. It doesn’t matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — I think we live in a world, like, we have to live in peace and a great world.”

The sporting world has reacted strongly against Russia with events and bans being handed out, while many Russian athletes will be forced to compete under neutral flags.