Former world number one Maria Sharapova attracted a lot of attention from Turkish tennis fans with her match against Çağla Büyükakçay on Sunday at the TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Stars Series in Istanbul.
Büyükakçay lost 2-0 to Sharapova, who took the first round 7-6 and the second round 6-0. However the most interesting part of the match came from the stands when Turkish fan asked Sharapova to marry him. Surprisingly enough Sharapova looked up at the stands and said, "Maybe" with a smile. The exchange was applauded by other spectators.
Maria Sharapova was engaged to Slovenian professional basketball player Sasha Vujacic for two years (2010-2012), but her relationship was short-lived.
The five-time Grand Slam champion was all smiles after witnessing the enthusiasm of Turkish fans at the sold-out Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul. She said that she was very happy to be part of such an event in Istanbul and thanked the audience for their support after the match in a press conference.
"I was impressed with the atmosphere. I can say great things about Istanbul," she said. "Playing against Çağla was both difficult and delightful. Çağla is a good example for young people. She has been getting better with every passing day."
Meanwhile, Büyükakçay said that it was "a huge pleasure" playing Sharapova. She thanked the Turkish Tennis Federation as well as Turkish Economy Bank for organizing the event.
Büyükakçay has won eight singles and fifteen doubles titles on the ITF tour in her career. In September 2016, she reached her best singles ranking of 60th. Büyükakçay is also the first tennis player to represent Turkey at the Olympic Games when she played at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Turkish Tennis Federation President Cengiz Durmuş, Ümit Leblebici, the general Manager of the Turkish Economy Bank, Galatasaray Chairman Dursun Özbek, Turkish Football Federation Vice Chairman Nihat Özdemir, Turkish Basketball Federation Chairman Hidayet Türkoğlu, Galatasaray's goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and a lot of other celebrities watched the match.
Last year, Sharapova tested positive for the banned substance meldonium. She had her initial two-year ban reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which ruled that the Russian bore "less than significant fault" in the case and that she could not "be considered to be an intentional doper."