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MARIA SHARAPOVA COULD CLAIM WORLD NO. 1 RANKING ON THE TENNIS CHANNEL THIS WEEKEND

SANTA MONICA, May 5, 2005

Defending Wimbledon Champion Reaches German Open Quarterfinals;
Three Wins from World’s Top Spot

With Berlin Title Teen would be Fourth-Youngest, First Russian No. 1

LOS ANGELES, May 5, 2005 – Just named to People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” list, teen tennis sensation Maria Sharapova took another step toward history with her third-round win today at the Qatar Total German Open in Berlin. Now in the quarterfinals, Sharapova needs three more wins to claim the tournament title, and in doing so surpass top-ranked Lindsay Davenport to become one of the youngest World No. 1 singles players of all time. If she accomplishes the feat, U.S. audiences will see it on The Tennis Channel, which is televising both semifinal matches back-to-back on Saturday, and the tournament championship on Sunday. The telecasts begin at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT both days.

Sharapova, who turned 18 two weeks ago on April 19, would be the fourth-youngest World No. 1 in WTA Tour history, eclipsing Hall of Famer Steffi Graf’s 1987 ascendancy at age 18 and two months. The three players who were younger than Sharapova is now when they became World No. 1 were all age 17: Tracy Austin (1980), Monica Seles (1991) and Martina Hingis (1997).

The defending Wimbledon and WTA Tour Championships winner Sharapova, however, is alone in the milestone department when it comes to nationality. No Russian player has ever held the women’s World No. 1 ranking.

Sharapova’s challenge in Berlin is considerable: she has never won a championship on clay, the traditional surface of most European outdoor tournaments, and meets a surging opponent in Justine Henin-Hardenne, who rides a 14-match win-streak into Friday’s quarterfinals, and is herself a former World No. 1.

The Tennis Channel (www.thetennischannel.com) is the cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports, and provides unparalleled coverage of the game, its elite championships and its superstar athletes. The network’s comprehensive coverage includes telecasts of the US Open Series, ATP Masters Series, top-tier WTA Tour championship competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, Fed Cup and Hyundai Hopman Cup. The Tennis Channel also showcases instruction from the finest teachers, legendary matches, in-depth profiles of the greatest players, analysis and news, the latest on equipment, and tennis getaways.

For Further information:
Eric Abner, Tennis Channel, 310-314-9445 or eabner@tennischannel.com