Sharapova announces engagement to British millionaire Gilkes

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova announced her engagement on Dec 17, 2020. PHOTO: MARIA SHARAPOVA/INSTAGRAM

LONDON - Maria Sharapova's secret is out.

The five-time Major champion announced on Instagram that she is engaged to British millionaire Alexander Gilkes, 41.

The retired Russian tennis superstar, 33, wrote on Thursday (Dec 17): "I said yes from the first day we met. This was our little secret, wasn't it? @gilkesa."

Gilkes, an art dealer, also posted on Instagram simultaneously.

"Thank you for making me a very, very happy boy. I look forward to a lifetime of loving you and learning from you @mariasharapova," he wrote, adding a ring emoji.

According to various media reports, Sharapova confirmed that she was dating Gilkes in October 2018.

The pair were rumoured to be together in January that year after being pictured together at Los Angeles' LAX airport.

Sharapova was engaged to National Basketball Association player Sasha Vujacic, 36, who proposed to her in 2010 on the anniversary of their first meeting. But they broke up in 2012, with Sharapova confirming that the split was due to their demanding schedules.

Sharapova also previously dated Bulgarian tennis star Grigor Dimitrov, 29, for three years until 2015.

The former world No. 1 announced her retirement in February.

Following the end to a career that saw her complete a career Grand Slam, Gilkes posted on Instagram: "To the kindest and most professional person I know, here is to you Maria, and all that awaits you in your next chapter! May you continue to inspire us all with your deep humility, self-deprecation, strength and focus."

He is the former husband of Misha Nonoo, a close friend of the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, the wife of Britain's Prince Harry.

Gilkes is also reportedly friends with Prince William since their Eton College days.

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