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Maria Sharapova is Set for Pickleball Slam 2

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By Jacob Jackson

Despite months of preparation for Pickleball Slam 2, the retired tennis sensation Maria Sharapova still feels the jitters of a novice. Sharapova, a newcomer to pickleball, is a five-time Grand Slam winner with a competitive spirit, and she aims to excel in the game. She will team up with John McEnroe to challenge the renowned tennis couple, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, in a glamorous event featuring Grand Slam tennis champions. This event will take place on February 4, 2024, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

Maria Sharapova

The first event, which took place in April 2023, saw Andy Roddick and Agassi emerge as the winners against Michael Chang and McEnroe. The event’s success led to a surge in ESPN’s ratings, prompting the swift organization of a second event the following year, with the addition of a mixed-gender feature.

A new feature introduced since the first event is the inclusion of a coach for each team. Jack Sock, who has expertise in both tennis and pickleball, will guide the team of Sharapova and McEnroe. On the other hand, James Blake will coach Graf and Agassi.

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The strategy of Maria Sharapova

Sharapova is rigorously preparing herself through continuous training. Despite being the youngest among the four players, with Agassi, the second youngest, being 17 years her senior at 53, she faces a challenge. The other three players have an advantage due to their longer experience in the sport.

Agassi and Graf often team up for games. Additionally, Graf made a brief surprise appearance at the Inaugural Pickleball Slam, stepping in for John McEnroe.

Maria Sharapova Pickleball
The Sports Daily

In July 2022, Sharapova and her fiance Alexander Gilkes welcomed their first child, a son named Theo. Consequently, her focus is now split between her business pursuits, motherhood, and her new interest in pickleball.

Fortunately for Sharapova, the serve in pickleball is underhand, which means it won’t strain her shoulder that was often injured during her WTA career, leading to her retirement in 2020. Fans are curious to know if they will hear Sharapova’s distinctive grunt during her shots. Don’t forget to tune into ESPN to watch Pickleball Slam 2 on February 4, 2024, at 8:30 PM EST.

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