Sharapova Enters Family Circle Cup - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Sharapova Enters Family Circle Cup

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CHARLESTON, S.C. -– Former World No. 1 and three-time Grand Slam Champion Maria Sharapova has officially entered the 2011 Family Circle Cup.  Sharapova enters this WTA Tour Premier Event player field currently ranked No. 16 after posting a solid 2010 season, which included her 21st and 22nd Tour singles titles at Memphis and Strasbourg.  She joins World No. 6 and defending champion Samantha Stosur, as well as 19-year-old American standout Melanie Oudin, as a world class player field begins to assemble on Daniel Island.  Marking the tournament's 39th consecutive year, the Family Circle Cup is scheduled April 2-10, 2011 at the Family Circle Tennis Center in the Best Tennis Town in America, Charleston, SC.

"Maria Sharapova is one of the most exciting and talented players on the WTA Tour, and this high profile addition is sure to excite our fans," said Eleanor Adams, Family Circle Cup Tournament Manager.  "We're thrilled that she will begin her clay court season at the Family Circle Cup in preparation for her pursuit of the career Grand Slam at Roland Garros."

The 23-year-old, six-foot two-inch Russian superstar currently owns a 371-91 singles record, has amassed over $13.5 million in career earnings, and has notched major titles on three different continents.  Sharapova continues to build on a stellar career, reaching the quarterfinals at Auckland, her debut event of 2011. 

Sharapova posted strong results in 2010, including titles at Memphis and Strasbourg, finalist appearances at Birmingham, Stanford, and Cincinnati, and reached the fourth round at both Wimbledon and the US Open, which all contributed to her season-ending World No. 18 ranking, marking her seventh consecutive Top 20 season.  For more information about Sharapova, visit her official web site at MariaSharapova.com.

Sharapova made her first appearance in Charleston as a 15-year-old qualifier, reaching the first round of main draw play in 2003.  She returned to the Holy City in 2008 as the tournament's No. 2 seed where she reached the quarterfinals opposite Serena Williams in a nationally televised 3-set match deemed by the Post & Courier, Charleston's only daily newspaper, as "Charleston's event of the decade - the single greatest sporting event in Charleston history".

"I was very disappointed that I could not compete in the Family Circle Cup because of an injury last year, so I'm excited to enter the 2011 event," said Maria Sharapova.  "I love the history and charm of Charleston, and I really look forward to returning to Daniel Island."

Family Circle Cup ticket packages and individual ticket sales are on-sale now.  Fans are urged to visit familycirclecup.com for continuous updates on ticket information and player commitments as the tournament approaches.

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