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Photos: Maria Sharapova helps light the Olympic flame

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Tennis star Maria Sharapova brings the Olympic torch into Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia. (John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images)

Tennis got some of the spotlight during the Sochi Olympic opening ceremony when Maria Sharapova came jogging into Fisht Olympic Stadium brandishing a huge smile and the Olympic torch. The Sochi native was one a group of six decorated Russian Olympians in the torch-lighting finale.

Sharapova, a silver medalist two years ago in London, joined a group that included two-time gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva (pole vaulter), three-time gold medalist Aleksandr Karelin (wrestling), gold medalist Alina Kabaeva (rhythmic gymnastics), and three-time gold medalists Irina Rodnina (figure skating) and Vladislav Tretyak (hockey). Rodina and Tretyak paired up for the final jog out of the stadium to light the cauldron for the official Olympic flame.

More photos of Sharapova’s memorable run below:

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Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

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Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

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Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

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Photo: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

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Photo: Fredrik Von Erichsen/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

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Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Published On Feb 07, 2014
  • 23 comments
    Playtime_Engine
    Playtime_Engine

    Why exactly is Riya Rapova doing serving as a correspondent at a WINTER olympics? What the hell does she know about winter sports being a tennis player? And Sochi is notwhere near her home town. That's Nyagan' in Siberia! Fact-checking, media!

    juless
    juless

    she looks so happy and proud! good for her!!!!!

    Kugelmum
    Kugelmum

    @Playtime_Engine Poor pathetic person Playtime. So states matter when you represent USA.? She is a national treasure, medal winner and the highest ranked sports female in the whole of Russian Federation.  She is a class act and role model for thousands of young kids, worldwide. You wouldn't understand all that but try.

    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    @Playtime_Engine  

    Sharapova has lived in Sochi 6 years of her life, her grandparents live there, her cousins live there. She began playing tennis there. It seems you know nothing about the woman. And she is not presenting winter sports but the city of Sochi. Actually to participate in this ceremony is an honor for every Russian athlete. 

    Playtime_Engine
    Playtime_Engine

    @Kugelmum @Playtime_Engine  

    Poor pathetic person? On the contrary. You, unlike me, are not Russian! This whole babble about ‘pova being Russian is a bunch of crap – she’s lived in the States since she was 6. Granted, that was not by choice. But to live abroad her entire life, to speak Russian with an accent, you’re gonna present her to me as a patriot? PALEEZE! First learn how to pronounce her name properly. And you won’t be seeing any other summer sports people there commentating on winter sports. They wisely leave it to the pros. Sharapova is pure PR. A gritty competitor, sure, but she has a horrible style at odds with her glamourous image. I’m delighted that Americans are coming to her aid, and you don’t know the half of making assumptions about people you don’t know. Clearly another keyboard warrior. You Americans can keep her. You deserve Sharapova, and her ilk. We have far bigger role models in Russia than a glammed-up ball basher, whose plan A is to hit hard, and whose plan B is to hit harder.

    I think that this is a genuine question, what is a tennis player doing at a winter olympics? What possible insight can she offer on sports she's for the most part seeing for the first time? Why aren't other tennis players going to the winter olympics? It's pure PR. She's famous so she gets the gig, end of!

    Playtime_Engine
    Playtime_Engine

    @maria_pashova @Playtime_Engine  

    Мария Пашова, ты мне ещё поговори! Выросшая в Америке рапова патриотка? Отнюдь. Она даже по-русски с жутким акцентом разговаривает! Живёт во Флориде. Что она делает на ЗИМНЕЙ олимпиаде, ещё раз тебя спрашиваю!?!?! И серебро у неё да есть, но проиграв в пух и прах Сирине 6-0 6-1 в финале это серебро - позорное! Дементьева - другое дело. Вот настоящая олимпийская чемпионка. Класса у неё уж точно побольше. Динара Сафина также серебрянный презёр олимпийский игр [в Пекине]. Но ты видишь чтобы она сувалась где ей быть не положено? Шарапова - сплошной пиар!

    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    @Playtime_Engine @Kugelmum And why Makarova, Kirilenko, Pavlyuchenkova, Vesnina and all the others are refusing to play for Fed cup??? Tennis is mostly individual sport and the tennis players represent their country as individuals. So you say Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonaryova are more talented? And where are their GS titles. I thought the most important events in tennis are GS, not Olympics!!!! 

    Sharapova vs Dementieva - 6:2

    Sharapova vs Zvonareva - 5:1

    Sharapova vs Safina - 2:2 - with Dinara winning on clay and Maria on hard.

    I think the results speak for themselves. And by the way you miss one that was far more talented than these three girls and this is Svetlana Kuznetsova - 2 GS titles. I like her the most but she has no Olympic medal so she is nothing to you, isn't she???

    Sharapova vs Kuznetsova - 4:2.


    The fact is Sharapova is your most successful female tennis player. I suppose when she retires you will be able to see what actually she has achieved. 



    Playtime_Engine
    Playtime_Engine

    @Kugelmum  

    I'd understand perfectly well if she was invited somewhere to commentate on the tennis, fair do's if she does in fact! Coz you, know, like, she'd actually know the subject-matter? Now there's a thought. But skiing, skating and biathlon? Pull another one compadre! :)

    Playtime_Engine
    Playtime_Engine

    @Kugelmum @Playtime_Engine  

    Any patriot would represent her country a little more often than she does in Fed Cup, which is to say, she never does! We keep getting caned by mid-ranked countries coz we keep fielding some hapless journey-women outside the top 100! Don't believe me? Have a look at the statistics. There are Russian Olympic tennis champions far classier and far more talented than 'pova could ever hope to be. I present to you the podium from Beijing 2008, where all 3 medals were won by Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonaryova. I somehow don't see them going to commentate on winter Olympics! I wonder why?

    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    @Playtime_Engine @maria_pashova  


    "There are Russian Olympic tennis champions far classier and far more talented than 'pova could ever hope to be."

    It seems you don't follow your own comments!!!!


    1. Sharapova doesn't comment on winter sports, she is presenting the Olympic city. 

    2. I've played tennis, I've watched numerous players and I can appreciate talent when it is presented there. And Sharapova is one of the best I've seen. If you look at her game before 2008 it was with variety and her serve was a thing of beauty. 2004 grass game of Sharapova was a classic. After the surgery she restricted her game to save her shoulder. Her return after such injury is a real bravery and because of her fighting spirit she is a role model for all the children of the world. 

    3. The best form of Sharapova on clay was in 2012. She beat all the past clay court champions and finalists on clay  - Li Na (Rome final), Sam Stouser, Ana Ivanovic and also Azarenka, 1 one seed and best player at the time (Stuttgart final). French open semi - she beat the number 4 seed Petra Kvitova who is a very good player on clay as she has Madrid and other titles so she met a top player. And in the 1/4 she played with Klara Zakopalova who is also a very good player. She is better than Azarenka on clay as she beat her again in 2013 semis of Roalnd Garros. So her FO title isn't a fluke but a legitimate win for numerous success on this surface. 

    4. Tennis is a mental game - this is the most important thing. The best example is Nadal. Sharapova has strong mentality that Kuznetsova had never had. Fact. Dementieva had one of the worst service of the women's game, just awful, with that kind of a service you never gonna be a big champion. Sorry. Marat Safin - great talent, weak mentality and working ethic. 

    5. PR or not Sharapova is a tennis legend. The results speak for themselves.

    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    @Playtime_Engine @abcxyz 

    She doesn't comment on winter sports, she is presenting her hometown Sochi to the foreign audience and as she is the most famous athlete now form this city it is only natural to chose her. What's your problem btw??? It seems your arguments are very lame and as if you are hating something about her. Just look from objective point of view;)

    Playtime_Engine
    Playtime_Engine

    A bigger problem than using lmao twice in one sentence? I don't think so. My beef is with Sharapova, yes. But it has nothing to do with patriotism or nationality or indeed lack thereof. I have no quarrel with you.

    Playtime_Engine
    Playtime_Engine

    @abcxyz @Playtime_Engine 

    You really shouldn't assume things about people on the internet. It just makes you look like a fool and bears out your own prejudices. I've lived in the UK for most of my adult life. I'm no more Russian nationalist than you are, or indeed no more than anybody is on this comments board.

    Playtime_Engine
    Playtime_Engine

    @maria_pashova @Playtime_Engine  

    And I wasn't offering you the podium from Beijing to say all those tennis players were better than Sharapova. They plainly aren't, and the statistics bear this out. Fair do's to Sharapova for completing the career slam. When she won the French, she didn't face a seed higher than 20 though [I think that was Zahlavova Strycova, the only match she dropped a set in, on the tiebreak I believe] - she beat The Kvit in the semis the following year. I offered you them as to say look, Shara is not the only Olympic champion in tennis, but why is she the only one going to commentate on winter sports? She's a great competitor, even if her style leaves me cold, and the shrieking does not help one bit either. And I agree, Kuznetsova is the best player of them all, but alas like Marat Safin, has rather squandered it. Still 2 slams is better than none. And Dementieva remains a way classier player than Shara can ever hope to be, PR or not.

    Playtime_Engine
    Playtime_Engine

    @abcxyz @Playtime_Engine 

    I live abroad so no, I'm no Russian nationalist. I have no issue with her being a very good tennis player. I have every issue with her commentating on winter sports being a tennis player however.

    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    @Playtime_Engine @maria_pashova 


    You,Rrussians, have three big champions in tennis - Kafelnikov, Marat Safin and Sharapova. Sharapova is the only one with 4 Grand Slams and even in 4 different surfaces. The woman has every possible title and the wins are against the best:

    1. Wimbledon - against the 1 -st and the 2--nd in the rankongs - Davenport and Serena Williams

    2. US Open - against the 1-st and the 2-nd in the rankings - Mauresmo and Henin

    3. Australian Open - beat the number 1 seed Justine and broke her streak of wins

    4. Roalnd Garros - the only one with Sara Errani in the final but beat number 4  seed Petra Kvitova. 

    In fact Sharapova is the most decorated Russian tennis player till now. If you don't respect her that's your problem. 

    To compare her to the tennis phenomenon Serena Williams is not fair to any woman tennis player. Serena in her form right now would crush Dementieva to pieces. I like Dementieva but she is nowhere near  the class of Sharapova. I like Safina too and I think only psychological issues were the problems in her GS finals. She should had taken at least one. Unfortunately Dinara had to retire because of injury. And the Olympic Gold is not a criteria for a good tennis player. Sometimes it is a matter of luck as it is not the most important tennis event and it is in 4 years time. I think tennis is not an Olympic sport and should be removed. 


    As the Olympic games are a symbol, the host nation has the right to assemble all of its most recognized and famous athletes despite the sport they represent. In the world Sharapova is the face of Russia and she has enough big titles which speak volumes for her talent on the court. I am not a particular fan of hers but I cannot deny her records and legacy. She is only 26 y.o. and has a real chance to win more trophies. Also if you want to be the best in you sport you will go to the place where they have the best conditions and trainers. So Sharapova has done the right thing when she was little. 


    Поздрави от България!!!!


    abcxyz
    abcxyz

    @Playtime_Engine

    How do you measure if somebody is patriotic or not? And why at all somebody must be patriotic to carry the Olympic torch? Sharapova has Russian citizenship, she plays tennis under Russian flag, plays in Fedcup for Russia. Who are you to deny her the right to represent Russia? I imagine USA would be very happy and keen to give her the passport, as would so many other countries because she is one of the most famous, successful and recognized athletes in the world, loved all around the world.

    Yelena Isinbayeva, Aleksandr Karelin and Alina Kabaeva also do not belong to the winter sport athletes.

    You are simply Russian nationalist who is jealous and hates Maria.