If Maria Sharapova decides to unretire, she now has a new doubles partner. The former tennis player and Grand Slam champ announced on her 35th birthday (Apr. 19) that she’s going to be a mom. “Precious beginnings,” Maria captioned the photo she posted on Instagram. In the pic, Maria stood on a beach in a bikini top and a wrap around her waist. Her baby bump was in full view. “Eating birthday cake for two has always been my specialty,” she added. In the photo, Maria tagged her fiancé, British businessman Alexander Gilkes.
Fans, friends, and followers flooded the comments section with well-wishes. “OMG! Happy Birthday Maria and congrats on this special moment!” wrote the official Therabody account. “We can’t wait to meet your bundle of joy!” Erin Andrews added, “Congrats!” Jessica McCormack wrote, “Amazing!!!!! Congratulations!!!! so happy for you guys.” “YOU TWO ARE GOING TO HAVE THE MOST SPECTACULAR BABY!” wrote Olivia June, adding, “Congrats on the best year ever ahead!!”
The news comes two years after Maria stepped away from the court. In a 2020 essay titled “Tennis — I’m saying goodbye,” Maria announced that she was hanging up her racket. “How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known?” she wrote. “How do you walk away from the courts you’ve trained on since you were a little girl, the game that you love—one which brought you untold tears and unspeakable joys—a sport where you found a family, along with fans who rallied behind you for more than 28 years?”
Maria, a former world No. 1 ranked player, leaves behind a legacy that includes wins at the Australian Open (2008), French Open (2012 and 2014), Wimbledon (2004), and the U.S. Open (2006). This makes her one of only ten women to win all four Grand Slam titles during her career, according to CNN. She’s also medaled at the 2012 London Olympics, taking home the silver in women’s singles tennis. Her legacy also includes some controversy. In 2016, she was hit with a 15-month suspension after testing positive for the banned drug meldonium.
Initially banned for two years, she won an appeal to have the sentence reduced, as she argued her use of the drug was unintentional. The Court of Arbitration for Sport agreed with Maria’s argument and cited that there was “no significant fault” by her.