BELARUSIAN ROOTS of Maria Sharapova

Each time when the name of the first world racket looks out on a new peak point, in Belarusian Gomel begins a Brownian movement. And not only because of the great love to tennis. The matter is that here are Maria’s relatives, friends and acquaintances of her parents. And now when Maria is officially recognized the good will ambassador of the UNN Development Program and as the ambassador she will render assistance to Chernobyl regions, Gomel has roused again: “Our man!”
Gomel relatives

In spite of the fact that Maria Sharapova is more known to the world as a Siberian beauty, it is not quite correct to call her “clearly Russian” lady. The parents of the talented tennis-player — Yuri and Elena are Belarusian. Their family roots originate from the Gomel land. 66-year old grandmother of the tennis-player Galina Demjanovna Sharapova lives in Gomel to the present time.
— It is laid in us by our ancestors, — the grandmother is sure. — The ability to achieve everything with the help of our own labor and not to give up was received from them. And what concerns the fact that Masha was recorded Russian, this is because she was born in a Russian town Niagan’ of Khanty-Mansisk district. There the children went because of the Chernobyl when Elena was expecting Masha to be born.
Talking about “sharapovskaya” hardiness, Galina Demjanovna doesn’t exaggerate not a speck. Having buried a 32-year old husband, she raised two sons Yuri and Sasha by herself. More than 40 years I had worked in Gomel as the Director of the grocery store, and there from she retired with honour. The relatives respond about her: “Demjanovna is an independent and strict woman and her boys are smart, they tried to get a living”. The best school friend of Yuri Sharapov is a Gomel resident Igor Kniazev, who sat with him at one desk, recollects how they ran together to play football. In 1979 together again they were entering the Gomel State Technical University named after Sukhoy:
— But Yura dropped out of the first course. I don’t even remember what had happened then. There from — to the army. And then he started to go to the building sites of the North and Siberia — he worked at elevation of buildings.
At that time Sharapov Senior had met his second half — Elena. In 1986, when Chernobyl disaster took place, they married at a registry in Gomel House of civilian ceremonies, following which the newly-weds came to Lena’s parents in Khanty-Mansisk district to give birth to a healthy child. And when the panic around Chernobyl had a little bit subsided, The Sharapovs returned to Gomel and till the end of 1990 they lived in the town, from which they moved to Sochi.

About the sources of love to tennis

Numerous friends of Yuri Sharapov tell that from school he had a particular attitude to sport. He was fascinated by many kinds of sport. He could freely come to Minsk by bicycle. He could often was seen at exercise rooms of the town. And then in Sharapov’s biography will appear tennis. Many years ago the present Chairman of the Gomel public association “Town tennis club “Ace” Viktor Dobrodeev met with Yuri on the tennis court:
— I was fascinated by this kind of sport more than 20 years. I have been “tainted” in Sevastopol, where just like Yura I had worked as the builder- finisher. He turned out to be a real tennis fan. He played very decently. Before the Sharapovs had moved to Sochi we constantly met with Yura at the court. He couldn’t outplay me. I remember well how he brought to Gomel 12-year old Masha who had been already trained in the USA. We came to the tennis court of the Gomel stadium “Luch”, and Yuri said to me: “And now try to outplay her”. And Masha has “scooped” me as tennis-players say. Such a distinguished girl, persistent, she even then held her little fist. One would think, 12 years, and she worked like a professional. Everything the Sharapovs have today is exclusively their merit. Yura has sacrificed everything to develop his daughter’s talent... Well, you know we met very often with friends whose children also played tennis, and used to dream that some day our children would “make” their competitors at Wimbledon or Roland Garros. And we asked: “Masha, please, flourish her arm”. Yura invented this dream and he realized as well as.
Before the Sharapovs moved to the USA several year had passed. The spouse Elena used to live in Gomel, in Sochi while father and daughter “conquered” harsh American academicians. Anna’s mother’s sister citizen of Gomel Anna Gracheva didn’t conceal: “Yura had to withstand a lot. He used to work at all kinds of vacancies in the States. He even washed plates”. Up to the relatives’ words, during rugged times a family of American doctors helped the Sharapovs, fellow-countrymen supped them as well as. They say, the American man Nicolay Novi­kov, former pupil of the Gomel children and teenagers physical culture school №7 coach Evgeniy Shvetsov, became a precious friend of their family. By the way, it was Shvetsov who trained Masha’s cousin — Dariya, now conquering American tennis height. Meanwhile, in the Gomel children and teenagers physical culture school №2 at the tennis section nephews of the famous sportswoman — Dima Grachev and his younger brother are training. Their family keep a racket presented by Maria Sharapova.

“Fairy-tales” from Masha

The news that Masha became an ambassador of good will excited Gomel tennis fans very much. The Sharapovs’ close friends that still keep in touch with them are sure: such “return” to the motherland sooner or later should happen. Almost every year Maria’s father comes to Gomel incognito — to see his mother. And he for sure notices changes in the country. It is after Masha’s victory at the Wimbledon tournament that tennis started to revive in the native city. Indoor courts appeared in Ice Palace and building of new grounds is under construction. Probably, that’s why people living in Gomel cherish hope that time will come to change competitive career to some business and Maria will recall her Home town. Who knows, may be one day Sharapova tennis school branch will be opened here. Local authorities assure that even now there are all conditions to do that.

Violetta Draliuk
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