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Maria Sharapova Tweets From Harvard Business School Strategy Class

Maria Sharapova in an HBS classroom with Microsoft's Simran Sachar

Maria Sharapova in an HBS classroom with Microsoft’s Simran Sachar

Well, that didn’t take long.

Five-time Grand Slam tennis champion Maria Sharapova, who earlier this week tweeted news that she was going to Harvard Business School this summer, dropped the H-bomb again today (July 1).

On her final day of a one-week course on strategy, Sharapova tweeted a couple of photos and a succinct message from the classroom.

from the class room. ‘Microsoft and Sugarpova learning something new today at Harvard,” she wrote on her Twitter feed. The photo shows her with a classmate, Simran Sachar, who for the past two years has been a manager of data insights and analytics at Microsoft in the greater Seattle area. Another picture snapped from behind her name card — a business school tradition — in one of HBS’ famed tiered classrooms shows a professor and other classmates.


Tennis champ Maria Sharapova in a Harvard Business School classroom

Tennis champ Maria Sharapova in a Harvard Business School classroom

Despite some media reports suggesting that Sharapova, currently kept off the court in a two-year doping ban, passed through the fine screen of admissions at HBS to attend the school, she is actually in a one-week exec ed program, and not the school’s MBA program which has an acceptance rate of just 11%. The Russian tennis star also has enrolled in another HBS exec ed course on leadership that will be held in London next week.

Sharapova’s HBS experience could very well be the first time she has been a student at a university. She enrolled at a tennis academy at age 9 and turned pro by the time she was 17. She handled her tennis career while attending Keystone High School, via correspondence on the Internet, but never attended college.

Clearly a poet, a nontraditional student among the engineers and quants in the class, Sharapova now finds herself in what has been called the “caldron of capitalism,” far from the courts she built her career upon.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) banned the 29-year-old star in June after a positive test for the banned substance meldonium during January’s Australian Open. At a news conference in March, Sharapova said she had taken meldonium since 2006 as a preventative measure for health reasons. She is appealing the decision with the hope of reducing or overturning the ban.


A ruling on appeal is expected by mid-July. A possible outcome of her appeal is to get the ban backdated to when she tested positive, a circumstance that would allow her to compete in the 2016 Olympics.

It was only a few days ago that Sharapova first announced on Twitter that she was going to HBS. Her tweet: “Not sure how this happened but Hey Harvard! Can’t wait to start the program!” Initially, it wasn’t clear which course she was attending but no one assumed it was Finance For Senior Executives or Audit Committees in a New Era of Governance.

In recent years, HBS exec ed courses have attracted nearly a steady stream of celebrities. Beatzshe took Harvard Business School’s nine-week Owner/President Management program, while LL Cool J, actor Channing Tatum, and NBA players Pau Gasol and Chris Paul enrolled in Anita Elberse’s The Business of Entertainment, Media & Sports. These courses do not require GMAT scores or undergraduate transcripts.

After supermodel Tyra Banks took the school’s Owner/President Management program a few years ago, she began dropping the H-bomb. “It hit me after graduating from Harvard,” Banks explained in a sequence of “America’s Next Top Model.” “We just have to do a college cycle!”

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova going to Harvard Business School

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova going to Harvard Business School


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.