Maria Kirilenko is the rising star of Russian Tennis. Born in Moscow on January 25th, 1987 where she still lives, she was introduced to tennis at the age of 7 by her father Uri. Known affectionately as “Makiri” she joined the WTA tour at the age of 16.
|Height:||5’8” 1.73 m|
|Turned Pro:||October 2001|
Kirilenko is one of the new breeds of Russian Athletes, tall, blonde, nubile girls, usually with ponytails and incredibly beautiful. They all attract the attention of the press and also the young men love them. The Russian girls tend to stick together on the circuit and she is close friends with Maria Sharapova.
There was a time when a lot of the players on the WTA tour were perceived to be lesbians but not anymore. This new breed of beautiful women all have equally beautiful boyfriends, usually, fellow players or experts in another form of sports and Kirilenko is no exception. She has been dating fellow Russian powerhouse player Igor Andreev for some time.
It is nothing new for women tennis players to get dressed up in glamorous dresses and pose for tennis calendars. That has been happening since the days of Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Pam Shriver, and Martina Hingis. But the fashion press has been eager to snap up the pony-tailed Russian teenagers since they first appeared on the scene.
Kirilenko followed Maria Sharapova by appearing in the infamous Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Although she said she felt uncomfortable for a day or two, the beautiful setting in the Dominican Republic soon put her at her ease and she found the photographer and his staff very professional.
In 2004 she was introduced to Stella McCartney, daughter of the famous Beatle, and two years later she was hired to model the designer’s range of clothes she had created in conjunction with Adidas. She is the only girl on the circuit to have been asked to model the McCartney range. The Russian girl had some involvement in the design of the dresses and she loved the partnership with McCartney.
“By working with Stella I have been able to bring together two things which are very important to me,” she said. “My sport and my style. I love wearing nice clothes and if you are well presented on the court then it makes you more confident. I enjoy shopping for clothes in places like New York and London.”
Away from the tennis court, Kirilenko loves football and other sports and wherever she goes on tour her laptop goes with her. She also likes classical music and loves ballet. After tournaments, she and her parents, plus other family members and friends, often escape to the country where Kirilenko enjoys fishing.
Maria Kirilenko Tennis Career Highlights
Maria Kirilenko is another very talented Russian and a hot prospect for future tennis success. Maria started playing tennis at the age of seven after being introduced to the sport by her father. In 2001 Kirilenko made her tennis debut in a circuit event in Croatia. She continued to progress her game and followed 2002 with a debut in the Tokyo Princess Cup as a qualifier then moving on to qualify for the Japan Open in Tokyo.
Maria Kirilenko won her first professional title in 2003 Boca Raton in the USA. Additional success in 2003 continued with qualification for Hyderabad in which Maria reached her first Tour Quarter Final. At Wimbledon, Kirilenko played in her first Grand Slam qualification. Maria made the Final of the Bronx, New York in the USA and received fifty thousand dollars in prize money. Maria followed this by qualifying for her grand slam debut at the US Open. In this tournament she achieved significant success reaching the third round losing to Amelie Mauresmo of France.
After a very successful 2003 tennis tour, Maria Kirilenko progressed into 2004 reaching her first Tour Final at Hyderabad. In this year Kirilenko made both second rounds at Roland Garros playing Serena Williams and at the US Open.
Maria Kirilenko alongside doubles tennis partner Maria Sharapova won her first Tour doubles title at Birmingham. Maria achieved a second singles career title at Saint Gaudens in France receiving fifty thousand dollars. However, Maria’s rapid progress was hampered by an injury to her right shoulder causing her to withdraw from both Seoul and Tashkent.
In 2005 Kirilenko Maria made her most significant tennis breakthrough winning her first career Tour singles title and a second doubles title. Maria Kirilenko captured her singles title at a Tier II Beijing. Kirilenko who was un-seeded at the time advanced to the Final after the world number one Maria Sharapova had to retire from the match after an injury caused by a strain to her pectoral muscle. In the Final held in China her rival was number nine seed Anne-Lena Groenefeld, Maria won the match six-three, six-four.
”This is my first title and I’m so excited. It has been a great week for me. I have played hard and I’m glad that I was able to win today. With the top seeds out, I saw my chance to play well and work hard to make it far in the tournament. It is not often that you get a chance, but this time I took it and it was good for me.” As commented by Maria Kirilenko after a superb tennis Final victory.
In Tokyo at the AIG Japan, Open Maira made the Semi-Finals losing to Nicole Vaidisova six-four, six-two who is another very hot and talented female tennis player.
At Doha as a qualifier, Kirilenko defeated number fourteen Patty Schnyder six zero in the first set, losing one six in the second, however, Maria showed why she has great potential by winning out six-two in the third and final deciding set to achieve her career-best win at this point.
Hot tennis talent Maria Kirilenko achieved her one hundredth career victory at the US Open playing Pous Tio. In a hot succession of winning tennis matches, Maira has moved up the tennis rankings. Kirilenko made her Top 50 debut on March twenty-first racing up the rankings from position sixty-six to forty-eight after the Indian Wells tournament. On September 26 Maria moved up from forty-five to position twenty-eight after her Beijing win. A tennis career-high position of twenty-five was achieved on the thirty first of October with an equal doubles position on the seventeenth of October.
In 2006, January Auckland Maria Kirilenko made it to the Quarter Final stages. Ranked fourth she lost to eighth seed and runner-up Vera Zvonareva. In Sydney, she reached the second round losing to fourth seed Nadia Petrova. In Melbourne at the Australian Open, Kirilenko reached the third round and forced top seed and eventual Quarter Finalist Lindsay Davenport to three sets losing six-four, four-six, six-two. This was still a great achievement for a hot new tennis talent equalling her best career Grand Slam performance with an additional doubles Quarter Final paired with Gisela Dulko.
Impressive tennis followed at Tokyo in the Pan Pacific tournament reaching a career-first Tier I singles Quarter Final. Maria Kirilenko defeated another hot tennis talent eight seed Ana Ivanovic before falling to former world number one and eventual finalist Martina Hingis. Maria who was also paired with Ana Ivanovic also reached the doubles Semi-Final.
In Dubai, Maria reached the third Tour singles Quarter Final of the season defeating fifth seed Petrova while losing to number two seed Davenport in another three-set match. The impressive six-four, six one win over world number eight Nadia Petrova was her second Top ten career victory.
Other memorable experience Maria Kirilenko enjoyed includes the US Open junior awards ceremony. She also admires fellow tennis players Roger Federer and Jennifer Capriati for their tennis styles and attitudes on the court.
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