Joined: 11 February 2005
Joined: 24 February 2006
* Maria Sharapova *
Maria Yuryevna Sharapova ( Russian; born April 19 , 1987 ) is a Russian professional tennis player, and currently World No. 1 as of September 12 , 2005 . Her parents are originally from Gomel , Belarus , but moved to Russia in 1986 in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear accident . Sharapova was born in Nyagan , Russia , the following year
At the age of three, Sharapova moved with her family to the resort town of Sochi, beginning to play tennis at the age of four, using a racquet given to her by Yevgeny Kafelnikov's father. At age five or six, at a tennis clinic in Moscow, Sharapova was spotted by Martina Navratilova, who urged her parents to get her serious coaching in the United States.
In 2004, Sharapova became the second youngest Wimbledon women's champion in the Open Era (after Martina Hingis) by defeating defending two-time champion Serena Williams in straight sets (6-1, 6-4). In the process she also became the first Russian ever to win that tournament.
Maria Sharapova uses the Prince Shark Racket and consequently the popularity of the racket has gone through the roof.
A 6 ft 2 in. blonde, Sharapova is regarded by many as possessing a natural beauty and figure and has done some modeling in November 2003 with IMG Models. She enjoys fashion and is known to read celebrity magazines. However, she says she does not want to overdo these activities, preferring to focus on her tennis. She is often compared to Anna Kournikova, also a Russian Bollettieri student and model. However, Sharapova, Bollettieri, and Kournikova all reject the comparison.
From June 2004 until her Wimbledon semi-final appearance in 2005, Sharapova had a 22-match winning streak on grass, including back-to-back Birmingham titles and the Wimbledon crown. Sharapova's huge success continued after winning Wimbledon, with a victory at the WTA Season-Ending Championships and consistent results.
In April 2005, Sharapova was listed by People Magazine as among the 50 most beautiful celebrities in the world. In June of 2005, Forbes magazine listed Sharapova as the highest-paid female athlete in the world, with annual earnings of $18 million. A significant portion of this amount came from endorsements.
Defending her Wimbledon title in 2005 proved to be a simple enough task at first, with Sharapova sailing through to the semi-finals with ease without losing a set. However, she dropped her first set of the tournament against a rejuvenated Venus Williams and lost the match 6-7 1-6 in one of the most thrilling and masterful displays of power and accuracy seen in the women's game. Sharapova's streak on grass was ended, as was her quest for the No. 1 ranking, with Lindsay Davenport, who lost a historic match to Venus Williams in the 2005 Wimbledon final, holding firm.
However, a back injury Davenport sustained in the Wimbledon final meant that she could not defend her titles won during the US hard court season of 2004. Because of this, she lost valuable ranking points. Sharapova was also suffering from an injury and did not complete a tournament during the season; however, she had fewer points to defend and therefore rose to the No. 1 ranking on August 22, 2005. However, Sharapova's reign was short-lived, lasting only a week after Davenport re-ascended after winning the New Haven title. Sharapova rose to No. 1 ranking again on September 12, 2005 despite losing in the Semi-finals of the US Open.
Her loss in the semifinal of the 2005 US Open against Kim Clijsters, marked the fourth time that season she lost at a Grand Slam tournament against the eventual champion: Australian Open-SF-Serena Williams, French Open-QF-Justine Henin-Hardenne, Wimbledon-SF-Venus Williams, US Open-SF-Kim Clijsters.
US Open 2005
Sharapova was defeated in the semi-finals of the US Open against Kim Clijsters after a nerve-wrecking encounter that ended 2-6 in first set, followed up by 7-6 in the second (ending in a tie-break) to finally lose with 3-6 in the third. Sharapova's defeat was much due to her inconsistent serves that led to a total of seven double faults during the encounter. Nevertheless, after falling behind 0-40 in the 12th game of the second set, the Russian started uncorking winners and managed to bring the game to deuce where after she fought off two more match points to force a tiebreak. Unfortunately, she didn't have the physical endurance left to pull-off a winning game on the last set and inevitably lost the match to Clijsters for the fourth time in a row.
Sharapova studies via correspondence on the internet with the Keystone High School home schooling program and has a liking for sociology .
Joined: 27 October 2005
Joined: 30 January 2007
Henry was born and brought up in the tough neighbourhood of Les Ulis, Essonne, where as a youngster he played for an array of local sides and showed great promise as a goalscorer. AS Monaco spotted him in 1990 and signed him up instantly. Handed his professional club debut in 1994, he stayed at Monaco until 1998, where good form earned him an international call-up. Henry then moved to Italian giants Juventus, but after a disappointing season playing on the wing, he joined Arsenal for a fee of 10.5 million in 1999.
It was at Arsenal that Henry made his name as a top footballer. Initially, he struggled in the Premiership, but he soon emerged as Arsenal's top goalscorer in almost his every season there. Long-time mentor and coach Arsene Wenger's conversion of Henry into a prolific striker made him Arsenal's all-time leading scorer with over 200 goals. With the Gunners, Henry won two league titles and three FA Cups. He was also twice nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year and twice received the Barclays Premiership player of the season award. Henry spent his final two seasons with Arsenal as club captain, leading them to the UEFA Champions League final in 2006. In June 2007, after eight years in an Arsenal shirt, the French striker transferred to FC Barcelona for a fee of 16.1 million.
With the French national squad, Henry has also enjoyed success, having won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Given his accomplishments, he is today regarded by many as one of the best footballers in the world. Off the pitch, as a result of his own experience, Henry is an active spokesperson against football racism.
Henry is of Antillean heritage; his father, Antoine, is from Guadeloupe (La Dsirade island), and his mother, Maryse, is from Martinique. He grew up in the heavily urbanised Les Ulis, a tough environment for the youngster. Despite its hardships, the town provided good facilities for footballers. In 1983, the six-year-old Henry showed great potential, which prompted Claude Chezelle to recruit the youngster at the local club CO Les Ulis. Five years later, Henry played his first game for the club. His father put a lot of pressure on him to attend training, although the youngster was not particularly drawn to football. Henry went on to join US Palaiseau in 1989, but after a year his father fell out with the club. Henry then moved to Viry-Chtillon for two years. US Palaiseau coach Jean-Marie Panza followed him there; Henry would name Panza as his mentor in future years.
In 1990, AS Monaco sent scout Arnold Catalano to watch the 13-year-old play. Henry scored all six goals as his side won 6–0. Catalano asked Henry to join Monaco without even attending a trial first. Catalano requested that Henry complete a course at the elite academy Clairefontaine, but the director there was reluctant to accept Henry due to his poor school results. Despite this, Henry was allowed to complete the course, and he joined Arsne Wenger's AS Monaco as a youth player. Subsequently, Henry signed professional forms with AS Monaco and was given his professional debut in 1995. Wenger put Henry on the left wing because he believed that his pace, natural ball control and skill would be more effective against full-backs than centre-backs. In his four seasons with Monaco, the young winger scored 21 goals in 125 appearances, and helped the club win the Ligue 1 title in 1996-97.
In June 1997, Henry's good form was rewarded with a call-up to the U-20 French national team, where he played in the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship alongside future teammates William Gallas and David Trezeguet. Within four months, France head coach Aim Jacquet called Henry up to the senior team. The 20-year-old made his senior international debut on October 11, 1997 in a 2–1 win against South Africa. Jacquet was so impressed with Henry that he took him to the 1998 World Cup. Although Henry was a largely unknown quantity at international level, he ended the tournament as France's top scorer with three goals. He was scheduled to appear in the final—where France beat Brazil 3–0—as a substitute, but the sending off of Marcel Desailly forced a defensive change instead. On Bastille Day 1998, he was awarded France's highest decoration, the Lgion d'Honneur.
Henry's good form for Monaco continued during the 1997-98 season, as he helped the club reach the UEFA Champions League semi-final. He then left Monaco in January 1999, one year before his friend and teammate David Trezeguet, and moved to ItalianSerie A club Juventus for 10.5 million. The Frenchman played on the wing, but he was unable to cope with the Italian defensive discipline of the Serie A. Henry scored just three goals in 16 appearances.
Unsettled in Italy, Henry transferred from Juventus in August 1999 to Arsenal for 10.5 million, reuniting with his former manager Arsne Wenger. Brought in as a replacement for Nicolas Anelka, he was immediately moulded into a striker by Wenger, a move which would pay rich dividends in years to come. Initially, doubts were raised concerning Henry's adapting to the English game when he failed to score in his first ten games, but he quickly discovered his scoring ability and ended his first season at Arsenal with a goal tally of 26.
The following summer, Henry was a member of France's Euro 2000 championship squad, again scoring three goals, including the equalizer against Portugal in the semi-final, and finishing as the country's top scorer. France later won the game in extra time following a converted penalty kick by Zinedine Zidane. France went on to defeat Italy in extra time in the final, and Henry earned his second major international medal.
Henry's second season with Arsenal proved to be a breakthrough as he became the club's top goalscorer. In the 2001–02 season, Henry netted 32 goals in all competitions as he led Arsenal to a double and his first silverware with the club. However, the 2002 FIFA World Cup featured a stunning early exit for both Henry and France as the reigning champions were eliminated in the group stage after failing to score a goal in any contest. After France lost their first match in group play, Henry was red carded for a sliding, studs-up challenge in their next match against Uruguay. France played to a 0–0 draw, but Henry was forced to miss the final match due to suspension; France lost 2–0 to Denmark.
Despite international disappointment, 2002–03 proved to be another productive season for Henry, as he scored 42 goals in all competitions while contributing 23 assists, remarkable returns for a striker. In so doing, he led Arsenal to another FA Cup triumph. During the summer that followed, Henry returned to form for his country at the 2003 Confederations Cup. France, playing without team stalwarts Zidane and Patrick Vieira, won, in large part owing to Henry's outstanding play for which he was named Man of the Match by FIFA's Technical Study Group in three of France's five matches. In the final, he scored the golden goal in extra time to lift the host country over Cameroon 1–0. Henry was awarded both the adidas Golden Ball as the outstanding player of the competition and the adidas Golden Shoe as the tournament's top goalscorer with four goals.
Henry was again instrumental in Arsenal's successful 2003–04 season. Together with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pirs, Henry ensured that the Gunners became the first team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league campaign unbeaten as Henry collected his second Premiership medal. Yet, Arsenal again failed to secure back-to-back league titles when they lost out to Chelsea F.C. in the 2004–05 season. However, the club did win the FA Cup, and Henry managed 31 goals in 42 appearances. That summer, Henry also played in all of France's Euro 2004 matches. France beat England in the group stages but lost to the eventual winners Greece 1–0 in the quarter-finals.
The departure of compatriot Vieira in the summer of 2005 meant that Henry assumed club captaincy. Along with being chief goal scorer, he was responsible for leading a very young team. The 2005–06 season proved to be one of remarkable personal achievements for Henry but disappointment in the team silverware department. On 17 October2005, Henry became the club's top goalscorer of all time; two goals against Sparta Prague meant he broke Ian Wright's record of 185 goals. On February 1, 2006, he scored a goal against West Ham, bringing his league goal tally up to 151 and thus breaking Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin's league goals record. Henry also scored his 100th league goal at Highbury, a feat unparalleled in the history of the club, and a unique achievement in the Premier League.
Nevertheless, Arsenal failed to win the league title again, but some hope was preserved when Arsenal, who hitherto never enjoyed much success in Europe, reached the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final. The Gunners eventually lost 1–2 to FC Barcelona, and Arsenal's inability to win the Premiership for two consecutive seasons combined with the relative inexperience of the Arsenal squad caused much speculation that Henry would leave for another club. However, he declared his loyalty and love for the club and subsequently accepted a four-year contract. He reaffirmed this months later by saying "If an opportunity like Barcelona comes again, with all my respect for such a club, I will refuse" and that he will stay at Arsenal for life. Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein later claimed the club had turned down two bids of 50 million from Spanish clubs for Henry before the signing of the new contract. Had the transfer materialised, it would have surpassed the world record 47 million paid for Zinedine Zidane.
Amidst the summer speculation, Henry was one of the automatic starters in the France squad at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He was played in the unfavoured lone striker role, but despite an indifferent start to the tournament, Henry became one of the top players of the World Cup. He scored three goals, including France's goal against returning champion and tournament favourite Brazil. However, France subsequently lost to Italy on penalties (5–3) in the final. Henry was one of 10 nominees for the Golden Ball award for Player of the Tournament, an award which was ultimately presented to his teammate, Zidane. Henry was also named a starting striker on the 2006 FIFPro World XI team.
Henry's 2006–07 season was largely marred by injury, something which was unprecedented in his entire tenure with the Gunners. Although he managed 10 goals in 17 domestic appearances for Arsenal, including the winner against Manchester United on 21 January, Henry's domestic and international season was cut short on 7 March2007. Having missed games due to hamstring, foot, and back problems, he was deemed fit enough to come on as a late substitute against PSV Eindhoven in a Champions League match, but began limping shortly after coming on. After the match Wenger announced that Henry had suffered new injuries to his groin and stomach muscles. At first it was expected that Henry would miss "a few weeks", but scans the next day revealed that he would need at least three months to heal, thus missing the rest of the 2006–07 season. Wenger attributed Henry's injuries to a protracted 2005–06 campaign, and also reiterated that the latter was keen on staying with the Gunners to rebuild for the 2007–08 season.
On June 25, 2007, however, Henry was transferred to FC Barcelona for a fee of 16.1 (€23.7) million. He signed a four-year deal for a reported 6.8 (€4.6) million per season. It was also revealed that the contract included a release clause of €125 (84.9) million In an open letter to The Sun, Henry cited the departure of David Dein and continued uncertainty over Arsne Wenger's future as reasons for leaving. Henry will wear the number 14 jersey, as he had at Arsenal.
Henry has received many plaudits and awards in his football career. He was runner-up for the 2003 and 2004FIFA World Player of the Year award; in those two seasons, he also won back-to-back PFA Players' Player of the Year titles. Furthermore, Henry is the only player ever to have won the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year three times (2003, 2004, 2006), and has emerged as the French Player of the Year on four occasions, which is an all-time record. Henry was voted into the Premier League Overseas Team of the Decade in the 10 Seasons Awards poll in 2003, and in 2004 he was named by football legend Pel as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers.
In terms of goalscoring awards, Henry was the European Golden Boot winner in 2004 and 2005 (albeit sharing it with Villarreal's Diego Forlan in 2005) and is the first ever player to retain the award. Henry has also been the top goalscorer in the Premiership for four seasons (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006). In 2006, he became the first player to score more than 20 goals in the league for five consecutive seasons (2002–2006). Henry is currently third in the list of all-time English Premiership goal scorers, behind Alan Shearer and Andy Cole. He is also France's second-highest goalscorer of all time behind Michel Platini, with only one goal separating the two.
Although Henry played up front during his youth, he spent his time at Juventus playing on the wing. Upon his joining Arsenal in 1999, Wenger immediately changed this, switching Henry to his childhood position, often pairing him with Dutch veteran Dennis Bergkamp. During the 2004–05 season, Wenger switched Arsenal's formation to 4-5-1. This change forced Henry to adapt again to fit into the Arsenal team, and he played many games as a lone striker. Still, Henry remained Arsenal's main offensive threat, on many occasions conjuring spectacular goals. Manager Wenger even once said of his fellow Frenchman: "Thierry Henry could take ball in the middle of park and score a goal that no one else in the world could score."
One of the reasons cited for Henry's impressive play up front is his ability to calmly score from one-on-ones. This combined with his pace means that he can get in behind defenders regularly enough to score. When up front, Henry is occasionally known to move out wide to the left wing position, something which enables him to contribute heavily in assists: between 2002–03 and 2004–05, the striker managed almost 50 assists in total thanks to his unselfish play and creativity. In set pieces, Henry was also the first-choice penalty and free kick taker for Arsenal, having scored regularly from those positions.
Henry married Englishmodel Nicole Merry in July 2003. The ceremony was held at Highclere Castle, and on 27 May2005 the couple celebrated the birth of their first child, Tea. Henry dedicated his first goal since Tea's birth to her by holding his fingers in a "T" shape and kissing them after scoring in a match against Newcastle United. When Henry was still at Arsenal, he also purchased a home in Hampstead, North London. But in July 2007, following Henry's transfer to Barcelona, it was announced by his solicitor that the couple were to divorce.
An avid National Basketball Association fan, Henry is often seen with his good friend Tony Parker at games when not playing football. Henry stated in an interview that he admires basketball as it is similar to football in pace and excitement. Having made regular trips to the NBA Finals in the past, he went to watch Parker and the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals; and in the 2001 NBA Finals, he went to Philadelphia to help with French television coverage of the Finals as well as to watch Allen Iverson whom he named as one of his favourite players.
Henry is a member of the UNICEF-FIFA squad, where together with other professional footballers he appeared in a series of TV spots seen by hundreds of millions of fans around the world during the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. In these spots, the players promote football as a game that must be played on behalf of children.
Henry is also an ambassador against racism as he has been subjected to racism in the past. Most notably, during a training session with the Spanish national team in 2004, a Spanish TV crew caught Aragons motivating Henry's then Arsenal teammate Jos Antonio Reyes and referring to Henry as "black shit". The incident caused an uproar in the British media with calls for Aragons to be sacked. Henry and Nike started the Stand Up Speak Up campaign against football racism as a result of the incident.
In 2006, Henry was valued as the ninth most commercially marketable footballer in the world, as well as being the eighth richest Premiership player, with 21 million. In terms of past endorsements, Henry featured in the RenaultClio adverts in which he popularised the word va-va-voom, meaning "life" or "passion". The word was subsequently added to the Oxford Concise English Dictionary. He was also a part of Nike's Joga Bonito campaign, Portuguese for "play beautifully". His deal with Nike ended after the 2006 World Cup, when he signed a deal with Reebok to appear in their "I Am What I Am" campaign.
With the French national team:
Appearances: 1998, 2002, 2006
Appearances: 2000, 2004
Confederations Cup: 2003
Ligue 1: 1996–97
French Super Cup: 1997
FA Premier League: 2001–02, 2003–04
FA Cup: 2002, 2003, 2005
FA Community Shield: 2002, 2004
UEFA Champions League Runner Up : 2006
UEFA Cup Runner Up : 2000
European Golden Boot: 2004, 2005
FA Premier League Top Scorer: 2001–02, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06
Onze d'Or: 2003, 2006
PFA Players' Player of the Year: 2002–03, 2003–04
FWA Footballer Of The Year: 2002–03, 2003–04, 2005–06
Runner-up: 2003, 2004
World XI Striker: 2006
Joined: 05 August 2006
Joined: 05 August 2006
Joined: 05 August 2006
Joined: 05 August 2006
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