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Unstoppable: My Life So Far (2017)

by Maria Sharapova

Other authors: Rich Cohen

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
643418,643 (3.79)6
Biography & Autobiography. Sports & Recreations. Nonfiction. HTML:

This program is read by the author.

From Maria Sharapova, one of our fiercest female athletes, the captivatingand candidstory of her rise from nowhere to tennis stardom, and the unending fight to stay on top.

In 2004, in a stunning upset against the two-time defending champion Serena Williams, seventeen-year-old Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon, becoming an overnight sensation. Out of virtual anonymity, she launched herself onto the international stage. "Maria Mania" was born. Sharapova became a name and face recognizable worldwide. Her success would last: she went on to hold the number-one WTA ranking multiple times, to win four more Grand Slam tournaments, and to become one of the highest-grossing female athletes in the world.

And thenat perhaps the peak of her careerSharapova came up against the toughest challenge yet: during the 2016 Australian Open, she was charged by the ITF with taking the banned substance meldonium, only recently added to the ITF's list. The resulting suspension would keep her off the professional courts for fifteen monthsa frighteningly long time for any athlete. The media suggested it might be fateful.

But Sharapova's career has always been driven by her determination and by her dedication to hard work. Her story doesn't begin with the 2004 Wimbledon championship, but years before, in a small Russian town, where as a five-year-old she played on drab neighborhood courts with precocious concentration. It begins when her father, convinced his daughter could be a star, risked everything to get them to Florida, that sacred land of tennis academies. It begins when the two arrived with only seven hundred dollars and knowing only a few words of English. From that, Sharapova scraped together one of the most influential sports careers in history.

Here, for the first time, is the whole story, and in her own words. Sharapova's is an unforgettable saga of dedication and fortune. In this new audiobook, she brings us inside her pivotal matches and illuminates the relationships that have shaped herwith coaches, best friends, boyfriends, and Yuri, her coach, manager, father, and most dedicated fan, describing with honesty and affection their oft-scrutinized relationship. She writes frankly about the suspension. As Sharapova returns to the professional circuit, one thing is clear: the ambition to win that drove her from the public courts of Russia to the manicured lawns of Wimbledon has not diminished.

Sharapova's Unstoppable is a powerful audiobook memoir, resonant in its depiction of the will to winwhatever the odds.

.
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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
I’m reading a book about Putin, the prima-Dona of international aggression and tyranny, and maybe I’d talk about it if it were a Count Leo book or something, you know—Oh, romantic Russians! Oh, distant, snowy land of the North!—but it’s not necessary for a tennis book, you know. Maria’s not as international and modern as Leo Gura (the actualized guy), but it’s close. She’s literally just hitting a tennis ball back and forth. Sport doesn’t have the same perils and opportunities as art, although sport is pure, you know; it has that Katniss Everdeen edge. And in a way tennis isn’t worse than “Friends”, and it’s better than “Downton Abbey” (although actual photos of a real Nice House would be better than a mythologized take on the people who live there, right).

Sport is pure, although I think that Maria getting banned or whatever for using a common over the counter medication is a little stupid, you know. Tennis gets high off its own purity, and society gets paranoid about “drugs”. Substances are all bad; I don’t know anything about them, except that they’re all each as bad as the next—it’s almost like a superstition, you know. It’s weird.

…. It’s good; it’s not a stereotype. It’s not elitist like a Russian novel snob, not an ignorant poverty disaster like living in Russia. It’s a cute little story about having faith that you will succeed, and taking action by hitting little yellow balls really hard, not letting the doubting mind take over.

…. “But all the public saw was hair color and country of origin.” I remember when I first got into tennis, I was SO racist, and that’s So Bad, even for blondie, you know…. I mean, I also liked that it included girls, but in my mind I also liked it for that bad-Jane-Austen-movie kinda vibe, you know: we love you for what you’re Not. And that’s not good for tennis, or Jane Austen. 🎾

…. Maria seems a little extreme, though. She didn’t like people, she just wanted to win, to dominate, and people either didn’t like her, or treated her the same way.

…. Maria doesn’t seem like a happy person—Russians often feel that it’s important to be unhappy—but she is a fighter, which does have benefits, you know; she’s not an opera singer in a Tchaikovsky romance, wafted away with the breeze.

…. Dismissing the bad thought. 🎾

…. I just saw Serena play and she hits the ball HARD; I think she might be my favorite. But then, she’s a whole other class of individual, in a way, 😜, so maybe I can have two favorites, and Masha’s a real fighter, you know. Of course, she’s not pretty, but I think that might be like a “you have a face not scarred by beauty” thing; I was rooting for Maria against Wozniacki because although Caroline is the pretty one, the one with the pretty face, I have kinda a negative attachment to her (not dramatic, but still), from back when I thought that tennis was a subdivision of Paris fashion, you know.

At least I learned the rules way back then! 🤪

…. It is funny how many formally successful people, not least Mashie, don’t actually like what they do; they just get used to it. Although you feel strange pitying a girl like that, who could probably impale you with a tennis ball, you know.

And certainly, /pace/ Charlie the Vickie-Dick (and most of Vicky’s other dicks, lol), although of course I allow Compassion to be good, Pity—just the sheer gratuitous pain-cultivation of it, you know—isn’t. People don’t want your pity. God knows Masha doesn’t.

…. And don’t forget: tennis is just like chess. After all, in chess, don’t you take one of the pieces, and then hit it: thwack it against the table?

You don’t? 🫢

…. Not that tennis Should be chess; it shouldn’t. But Masha thinks it Is—although obviously she knows it Isn’t—because she wants to be Smart, because she’s unpleasant.

🤷‍♂️

I mean, she certainly overcomes adversity; I just wonder how much of the adversity doesn’t come from being down on everyone and everything. Even if you don’t have to be a flower to play tennis, you know.

…. Strangely it’s kinda how the Germans were in the World Wars; so good at overcoming in battle they won all the History Club competitions, but so good at getting everyone to hate them they got into too much trouble. Of course, I’m not saying that Masha is Hitler. Maybe her one coach Robert Lansdorp could be Hindenburg, and she could be Ludendorff, you know.

…. Re: the trumped-up drug charges, it’s like, maybe the bureaucrats just love drug convictions, you know; but I think the way the public reacts is just, Let’s pile on the unpopular kid, you know. I mean, this is a person that you get the sense has very little social life or popularity or whatever, but people are just vicious, you know. (I’m not social, basically, either. It’s hard!) But people are like, I get to pile on the typical unlikeable ‘iron lady’ chick who’s a classic morose Russian to boot! Oh my God! Christmas came early! Let’s celebrate! Thank you, Santa Claus! And—fuck you, Maria Sharapova! (waving at camera) (beat) What’d she do again?

I mean, sometimes bitchy fighter people piss me off too, but this is a girl who was literally just hitting tennis balls back and forth! Tennis, people! It’s tennis! Being a little antisocial almost makes it better! It’s like if a basketball player sat around and, I don’t know, took up baking or novel writing or something. You gotta /diversify/, right.

Which for a tennis girl probably (usually) means owning your power.
  goosecap | May 22, 2023 |
3.5 Stars. If you’re a longtime fan you’re probably familiar with most of the content in this book already, but it’s still entertaining to re-live all those memorable moments, and there were insights here and there that added a little something new or interesting to the stories I already know, like the small details from Wimbledon, what it’s like there, accommodations, the daily milk delivery, etc.

One reason I don’t read a lot of memoirs is because I don’t love it when only one side of a story is told, the gossipy unsubstantiated nature of that is just not my thing, but for readers who do enjoy that, Maria, blunt as she is (an aspect of her personality I enjoy in any other context), doesn’t hold back when it comes to the Kournikovas, Dementieva, and of course, Serena, among others. No one is going to like everyone, so I don’t mind her admitting that there are people she doesn’t click with, but so often snap judgments seemed to be made based solely on gossip or by reading into someone’s actions rather than say, asking them what did you mean when you did such and such. Like, for instance, Serena congratulated Maria with a hug for winning Wimbledon and a couple years later, Serena attempted a conversation about a personal thing they shared in common, and maybe it’s because I’m one of those fans who actually loves both these remarkable athletes, but those gestures from Serena came off like an attempt to bury the hatchet, not necessarily the villainy Maria frames it as. Obviously I don’t know, I wasn’t there, and if an athlete feels like they need animosity to compete at their highest level and that strategy works for them as well as it worked for Maria, it’s hard to fault her for not making an attempt to know people beyond the surface or for turning seemingly innocuous moments into slights, into grist for the tennis court.

Maria understandably presented her father in a much more balanced light than her rivals. I thought she did a fantastic job of conveying how important he is to her personally and to her career while at the same time addressing the more complicated “crazy tennis parent” side, including an anecdote that led to the departure of a coach.

I also liked that she didn’t shy away from discussing the suspension, nor should she. Again, I feel like if you’re a fan, you’re already aware of the circumstances, that it was a situation more about her country of origin and an easily made oversight by Maria and her team than it was about an active attempt to cheat, but those who didn’t read beyond the blaring headlines at the time may find this section enlightening.

While there was some pettiness and snobbery I’d just as soon not have read about, this book, like Maria herself, shone brightest when it showed her digging deep, times when she was down and out in matches only to find a way to win, and in recovering from injury. I don’t think she’s ever gotten enough credit for figuring out how to win majors after a surgery that no one else has overcome, to succeed with a suddenly very unreliable serve/shoulder, it speaks volumes about her grit and determination. ( )
  SJGirl | Apr 20, 2020 |
I listened to the audiobook with Maria herself narrating, which is a nice touch, and think it’d be good if more celebrities narrated their own autobiographies.

The most engaging section covers the years leading up to Maria’s 2004 victory at Wimbledon. I watched that final, plus most of Maria’s matches that led up to it, yet I’d never heard of her beforehand. Therefore, it was really interesting to hear a first-hand account of her road to Grand Slam glory.

Rags to riches’ stories usually do appeal to me, and this is exactly what Maria experienced, along with her parents. As she states early on, this book is as much about her father, which is a good thing. He’s a real character.

The years from 2004–2015 cover how Maria coped with fame alongside her tennis career. The main focus is on her Grand Slam appearances and when injury forced her out of the game for a time. Relationships also play a part in the story, but not to a great extent.

It’s unfortunate the book ends on Maria’s 15-month ban from professional tennis, starting from January 2016. At least the book continues to when Maria was about to return to tennis. This gives a positive end to a negative period.

I hope she’ll revise and extend the book in two or three years’ time to recall her return to the game and having to rise all over again.

As a tennis fan, I consider “Unstoppable” a great read. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Oct 27, 2017 |
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Biography & Autobiography. Sports & Recreations. Nonfiction. HTML:

This program is read by the author.

From Maria Sharapova, one of our fiercest female athletes, the captivatingand candidstory of her rise from nowhere to tennis stardom, and the unending fight to stay on top.

In 2004, in a stunning upset against the two-time defending champion Serena Williams, seventeen-year-old Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon, becoming an overnight sensation. Out of virtual anonymity, she launched herself onto the international stage. "Maria Mania" was born. Sharapova became a name and face recognizable worldwide. Her success would last: she went on to hold the number-one WTA ranking multiple times, to win four more Grand Slam tournaments, and to become one of the highest-grossing female athletes in the world.

And thenat perhaps the peak of her careerSharapova came up against the toughest challenge yet: during the 2016 Australian Open, she was charged by the ITF with taking the banned substance meldonium, only recently added to the ITF's list. The resulting suspension would keep her off the professional courts for fifteen monthsa frighteningly long time for any athlete. The media suggested it might be fateful.

But Sharapova's career has always been driven by her determination and by her dedication to hard work. Her story doesn't begin with the 2004 Wimbledon championship, but years before, in a small Russian town, where as a five-year-old she played on drab neighborhood courts with precocious concentration. It begins when her father, convinced his daughter could be a star, risked everything to get them to Florida, that sacred land of tennis academies. It begins when the two arrived with only seven hundred dollars and knowing only a few words of English. From that, Sharapova scraped together one of the most influential sports careers in history.

Here, for the first time, is the whole story, and in her own words. Sharapova's is an unforgettable saga of dedication and fortune. In this new audiobook, she brings us inside her pivotal matches and illuminates the relationships that have shaped herwith coaches, best friends, boyfriends, and Yuri, her coach, manager, father, and most dedicated fan, describing with honesty and affection their oft-scrutinized relationship. She writes frankly about the suspension. As Sharapova returns to the professional circuit, one thing is clear: the ambition to win that drove her from the public courts of Russia to the manicured lawns of Wimbledon has not diminished.

Sharapova's Unstoppable is a powerful audiobook memoir, resonant in its depiction of the will to winwhatever the odds.

.

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