Players who are professional – in terms of how they conduct themselves, not in terms of those who earn prize money – demonstrate character and exhibit the behaviors and attitudes of an athlete who is consistently prepared to practice and compete with full engagement and commitment.

“Pursue excellence relentlessly.”

“If you train hard, you will not only be hard, you will be hard to beat.” – Herschel Walker

“Do the next right thing.”


  • Understand what is most important: your character. Do the right or appropriate things all the time.
  • Be highly engaged in practice: be an excellent practice partner. Hustle for every ball and stay focused on getting better in practice. 
  • Prepare for tournaments diligently. Have a plan for physical and mental preparation that is followed consistently. 
  • Always be looking to get better and learn. Try new ideas and techniques after examining them and talking them over with someone you trust, like a coach or teaching professional.
  • Not avoid areas of weakness. Instead, work on them diligently to improve.
  • Not make excuses. Instead accept that you are not perfect and mistakes happen.
  • Look for solutions and take responsibility instead of feeling bad for yourself and/or looking to place blame and make excuses.
  • Control your emotions and to respond to stress and adversity with respect and good sportsmanship.
  • Stretch, eat healthy, hydrate, mentally prepare for matches, cool down after matches, journal about practices and matches. Being professional is not glamorous; it’s about habits that make you successful.
  • Follow a between-points routine that helps you be fully engaged (focused, ready, energized and believing) for the next point.
  • Treat a coach like a coach. Be open to being coached, listen to your coach’s advice, accept their positive push to train and become better, and ask questions and offer your own thoughts and opinions. 
  • Accept the other responsibilities that come with tennis. For a junior or adult recreational player, these include being a great practice partner and a good role model for others. For a player on the professional tour, these can be media requests and charity events. 
  • Not change your mindset and habits when things are not going well. Know that this is when you need to be disciplined, continue to work hard and be aware of why things aren’t going well.


Maria Sharapova is a consummate professional on the court. She is committed to playing her game and competes to her best ability every single point. Losing a point, a game or a set does not faze Sharapova to the point where she lowers her effort or becomes less engaged in competing. Her professionalism is based on a mindset where she is very focused on being professional and doing the right thing all the time. Her routines on court are legendary, and she also is very consistent in her training and off-court activities. You probably wouldn’t see Sharapova slack on a cool-down after a bad loss or be unprofessional in a post-match press conference. 

Sharapova is not only professional on the court, she is professional off the court. She has a foundation that:

  • Being professional is to embody the positive attributes, characteristics and behaviors of someone successful in tennis.
  • Being professional relates to many different things, but it starts with a mentality of doing the right thing (in this case to succeed in tennis with honor and character) even when no one is watching you and there is temptation to be unprofessional.
  • A professional is more than someone who accepts money to play tennis, and someone who is professional doesn’t have to be winning prize money or obtaining sponsorships.


The Maria Sharapova Foundation is committed to helping children around the world achieve their dreams. In 2007, Maria became a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and donated $100,000 to Chernobyl-related projects. Recently, in partnership with the UNDP, Maria launched a $210,000 scholarship program for students from Chernobyl-affected areas of Belarus. that will award five-year scholarships to 12 students at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts and the Belarusian State University.