How She Got to No. 1

Maria Sharapova, 18, uses a big serve and a killer instinct to prove that she's not just another pretty face

Maria Sharapova fibs. "I'm just a normal girl," she giggles. Sharapova, 18, the blond, leggy, Russia-born, Florida-raised tennis pinup is the No. 1--ranked player in the world heading into next week's U.S. Open. Sure, like a normal girl, Sharapova is a bit of a mall rat. But a normal girl doesn't morph into the highest-paid female athlete on the planet in one year. She doesn't have a corporate sponsor like Motorola throw her 18th-birthday party at a swank Manhattan nightclub, pack it with 500 people and hire Maroon 5 to rock out. And a normal girl certainly doesn't walk the tightrope...

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