Maria Sharapova gets mobbed by China fans after practice

Sharapova wows the crowds (©GettyImages)

Maria Sharapova proved why she is still one of the most popular tennis players on the planet as fans flocked to see her practise session.

The 27-year-old made a winning start at the women's China Open as she defeated Estonian outsider Kaia Kanepi in straight sets to set up a match in the next round against Ukrainian youngster Elina Svitolina.

Ahead of her second round contest, Sharapova got some practise under her belt and was met by a hoard of fans.


Sharapova posted a picture to her 1.29 million Twitter followers which showed security fences and guards restricting the public who tried to get all manner of souvenirs signed by the five-time Grand Slam champion.

She also captioned the picture: 'Hello #sharafamily in #China.'

It isn't the first time that Sharapova has taken to Twitter to display to her followers what its like to have a life in spotlight. Even earlier this week, she posted a photo of an unsuspecting male fan reading an article on her while he sat on an aeroplane unaware that the subject of the article was right behind. 

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To be fair, the Russian star has had more than enough time to get used to the attention and continues to do well out of it.

Ever since shocking the world to win Wimbledon as a 17-year-old, Sharapova has established herself as one of sport's most instantly recognisable faces through on and off-court success. 

After winning the aforementioned Wimbledon title and then the US Open two years later, the tall blonde had eight years in which she picked up just one more major, the 2008 Australian Open.

However a resurgence over the last few years saw Sharapova complete the Career Slam as she won the French Open in 2012 and then again earlier this year.

High earner 

Her off-court profile, boosted by silverware on it, has risen to sky high levels through her work as a fashion designer and businesswoman. 

Despite not leading the way in pocketing women's prize money, Sharapova was once again listed as the highest-earning female athlete in the world - by American magazine Forbes - thanks largely to bumper endorsement deals with the likes of Nike, Avon, Samsung and Tag Heuer. 

Perhaps now would be a good time for the current world no.4 to extend her popularity in Asia even further. The retirement of Chinese former world no.1 Li Na means that fans need a new person to support and Sharapova could well fit the bill. 

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