There's something vaguely erotic about women's tennis. Maybe it's the short skirts, or the way the athletes sweat as they bump and grind around the court. Or maybe it's the loud, almost concupiscent, grunting as they whack the tennis ball over the net. Whatever it is, Maria Sharapova is a prime example of that eroticism, as she's arguably the hottest female tennis player--or female athlete in general--in the world.
Unfortunately, Sharapova's tennis career has recently hit a bit of a speed bump, as she revealed in March that she had failed a drug test leading into the 2016 Australian Open. The drug in question was meldonium, which is most commonly prescribed for heart conditions. To be fair to Sharapova, the drug had only been placed on the banned substance list a few months earlier, and she claimed that she had been taking it for ten years, prescribed to her by her family doctor for medical reasons. Whether you believe her story or not, she has no one to blame but herself, especially considering that she had been warned that the drug was going to be placed on the banned substance list.
Now that Maria Sharapova is no longer in the tennis world, perhaps for good, who is going to take her place? There's never quite been anyone like her, someone who combines such beauty with such talent. Sure there are other blonde bombshells in the sport, like Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, but they don't have quite the same skill that Sharapova, a former world number one and five-time Grand Slam winner, had.
Since there may not be another female tennis player quite like Sharapova ever again, let's fall back on the good old days when she was still in the spotlight, and take a look at the 15 hottest pictures of her.
15 Frolicking On The Beach
At 6’2” and a lean 130 lbs., Maria Sharapova has one of the best bodies in all of professional sports. As you can see from these bikini pictures, taken for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition, the Russian tennis player keeps herself in great shape. She currently resides in Bradenton, Florida, so there’s plenty of opportunity for her to lounge around on the beach and work on her tan. And that’s exactly what she’s been doing ever since her tennis career was put on hiatus, as she’s been spotted on the beach on several occasions these past few months, seemingly unfazed by the whole situation.
14 Lady In Red
Sharapova is right at home with the celebrities and the fashion trendsetters. Here she is at the 2016 Met Gala, looking as beautiful as ever in a long, bright red dress, which accentuates her features in all the right ways. If you didn’t know any better, you might think that she was one of the supermodels at the event. Other high-profile celebrities who attended the Gala that night included: Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Emily Ratajkowski, and Beyonce. But we still think Sharapova stole the spotlight with this sexy outfit.
13 Animal Print
There’s a reason why Sharapova is one of the highest paid female athletes in the world when it comes to endorsements. It’s not just because she’s one of the best (although that doesn’t hurt); it’s because she’s one of the most beautiful, and this picture from Esquire, wherein she’s wearing a leopard print top that shows off her toned midsection, is a perfect example of just how beautiful she can be. According to Forbes, last year Serena Williams made rougly two times more than Sharapova through winnings, yet Sharapova made roughly twice as much through endorsement deals. Unfortunately, some of her sponsors have since suspended their relationship with Sharapova due to her positive drug test, but we’re guessing she’ll be okay financially.
12 Baby Got Back
Who says that thin white girls can't have junk in the trunk? Haven’t you ever heard of a whooty? This picture is proof that, yes, even white girls have back. Her upper body and lower body look like they belong to two separate people in this picture. Sure she might not be Serena Williams when it comes to booty (then again who is?), but it’s still pretty impressive. I think it’s fair to say that she squats. Sharapova’s playing style is a rare combination of speed and power, and a lot of that power derives from her strong legs.
Seriously, this woman missed her true calling in life. I don’t think she was meant to be a world-class tennis player; I think she was meant to be a world-class model. Here she is posing for a recent photo shoot for EDIT Magazine. This picture isn’t sexy because she’s revealing a lot of skin; it’s sexy for just the opposite reason. Sharapova is a natural beauty even when she’s fully covered, and her beauty is only amplified by a little bit of mystery. We can only imagine what’s underneath that coat, but the bare shoulder gives you the impression that she’s not wearing much. Ah, how you tease us, Maria.
10 Red Hot
Sharapova’s reaction to the news that she had failed a drug test seemed to be to head to the beach. And we’re glad for it, because it means we get to soak up these pictures of her soaking up the sun. Here’s one of her in a tiny red bikini in Mexico, showing off her long, athletic body. Sharapova was caught dancing on the beach with her celebrity friend Chelsea Handler, seemingly without a care in the world. Why shouldn’t she smile? Even though her career’s in jeopardy at the young age of 29, she’s still made millions ($125 million, to be exact).
9 Blowing A Kiss
We had to include at least one picture of her doing what she does best: playing tennis. Here she is at the 2015 Wimbledon Championships after just defeating Coco Vandeweghe. Sharapova won two sets to one to move on to the semifinals, where she would ultimately lose to Serena Williams, who would go on to win the tournament. Not to worry, as Sharapova had already won Wimbledon back in 2004, when she defeated, you guessed it, Serena Williams.
8 Classy Yet Sexy
When she’s all dressed up like this, it’s hard to believe that she’s even a professional athlete. She’s just too pretty to be anything other than a model. This picture was taken during the Vanity Fair Oscars Party in 2013. From the front, it just looks like a modest blue dress, yet from the back it looks like anything but. It’s a perfect dress for Sharapova; like her, it’s classy yet sexy. It also accentuates her muscular physique while still keeping true to her feminine side.
7 Working Out
Part of what makes Sharapova one of the greatest female tennis players of all time is her commitment to physical fitness. She told Shape Magazine that she “loves to bike and do yoga on a regular basis," and that she “adds a fun element to working out by incorporating salsa dancing into her schedule—perfect for helping her maintain her motivation.” And as you can see from this picture, the workouts pay off. She looks good doing it, too. Although she’s only 130 lbs., she packs a lot of power into that slender frame, and can serve upwards of 120 mph. We bet there’s more than a few men who would gladly stand in front of one of those serves if it meant that they could go on one date with her.
I can’t think of a better female athlete to be on the cover of Shape Magazine than Maria Sharapova. It’s certainly not the first time that she’s been on the cover of a magazine, either. Her gorgeous face has been on the cover or in the pages of everything from sports magazines to health magazines to fashion magazines--from Women’s Health to Cosmopolitan, and from ESPN to Glamour. I guess you could say that she’s a crossover celebrity. She’s also multitalented. Not only is she a great tennis player, but she’s also a model and a spokesperson.
5 Pretty In Nike
In our list of the female athletes who look best in yoga pants, Maria Sharapova came in at number 11, but who are we kidding, we all know there’s no one who looks this good when their stretching in a pair of spandex and a sports bra. She has the kind of body that was made for sportswear—long and lean and just the right amount of muscle. So it’s no wonder that Nike made her the face of their clothing line. In 2006, she starred in a commercial for Nike aptly titled “Pretty." At the end of the commercial, however, it’s revealed that she’s more than just a “pretty” face, as she slams a serve past her opponent, causing the spectators in the stands to gasp in awe.
4 Winning Is Sexy
There’s nothing sexier than a winner, except maybe a sexy winner. And that’s exactly what Maria Sharapova is. Here she is proudly hoisting up her trophy from her win at the French Open, and she’s doing it in style, in a sexy, semi-backless black dress. She has won every Grand Slam event, including the French Open twice, and she’s won 35 WTA tournaments in total. Too often the accomplishments of female athletes are overlooked by their physical attributes, so we’re proud to celebrate a woman who is both beautiful and talented.
3 Little Blue Dress
Sharapova has the kind of body that makes grown men’s jaws drop to the floor. This dress, which is short and tight in all the right places, should therefore come with a warning sign attached to it. Something along the lines of: WARNING: This dress may cause jaw damage. If you do not wish to go blind from the hotness, avert your eyes at once. The only bad thing about Sharapova and her incredible physique in a pair of high heels is that, at 6’2”, she’s probably too tall for you. Not that you had a chance to begin with.
2 Back Against The Net
Let’s not forget the reason why Maria Sharapova is famous in the first place. She’s a tennis player, and, yes, she just happens to be a damn sexy one. And this photo reminds us of both of those facts. Sitting with her back against the net, Sharapova stretches out those incredible long legs of hers. Nowadays, what with the recent performance enhancing drug scandal, she has her back against the net yet again, figuratively speaking. Hopefully this isn’t the match point for her career and she’s able to fight back from this hiccup. Women’s tennis without the beautiful Maria Sharapova just wouldn’t be the same.
1 Not Your Average Pinup Girl
Maria Sharapova is not your average pinup girl. She’s an Olympic silver medalist, a former world number one ranked player, a multi-millionaire, and a champion since the age of 13. How many swimsuit models can claim even half as many accomplishments as that? Even though she’s only 29 years old, Sharapova has been the it-girl in the tennis world for well over a decade, winning her first Grand Slam tournament in 2004 and her latest in 2014 (and hopefully that won’t be her last). Most women who look as good as her prioritize their beauty over all else. But not Sharapova. Success comes first for her. She just happens to be one of the most beautiful women in the world.