Michael Joyce Tennis Podcast

In 2003, Michael Joyce was at a stage in his life that is all too common on the professional tennis circuit. A respectable career was just about behind him, but the majority of his life was in front of him.

So what's next for a 30-year-old with serious game & even more serious knowledge? Joyce caught the coaching bug, and unbeknownst to him at the time, wound up paired with one of the faces of women's tennis for a generation. He was ending one career and starting another in southern California, where he began hitting with a young Russian girl with a ton of potential.

"When I started to travel with her (Maria Sharapova), I was her coach but I was almost like a big brother in a way," the Los Angeles native recalled.

And so began a partnership that would revolutionize the game, and change the way we look at athlete's as brand ambassadors off the court.


Joyce officially became Sharapova's coach in 2004. At the time she was known in tennis circles, but not the mainstream. Then 2004 Wimbledon arrived, and that 17-year-old defeated Serena Williams in the final to rock the tennis world.

"She went from us hitting at the South Bay Tennis Center with pretty much nobody really knowing who she was, to within a year being the face of tennis," he said.

Joyce coached Sharapova for seven years, guiding her to three major titles and a place atop the women's game. It was an exciting run and, as he explains to fellow coach Kamau Murray, a crash course for a young coach dealing with off-court responsibilities, too.

Sharapova had more endorsements than any female athlete in the world, and with that came obligations to those sponsors. One such notorious example involved a seven figure shampoo commercial.

"She had to do the commercial so many times, the next day we couldn't even practice her serve!"

You have to strike while the iron's hot, but you also have to stay focused on the craft that brought you to the dance. Joyce brings up the current state of affairs with Emma Raducanu as a similar parallel to Sharapova, who will be pulled further away from the court with each pressing sponsorship. It takes a team effort, from the manager, coach, and player to decide when and where to handle these obligations, while ensuring that the tennis itself does not suffer.


After his successful partnership with Sharapova concluded, Joyce worked with several other WTA players, one of which was no stranger to success. He spent a season with Victoria Azarenka at a difficult point in her personal life, but praises her competitive nature as world class.

"One day I played her in ping-pong ten times, and I almost had a heart attack," Joyce said. "She didn't want to stop."

Joyce gives credit to the players as any true coach would, making it clear that they have to buy in for dedicate themselves for any strategy or game-plan to take hold.

"It's not even that they just love to compete, it's the fact that somebody's trying to beat them," he succinctly puts it. "They will do whatever it takes to not give away something that they have."

Murray and Joyce are two men who have succeeded in working with and developing tennis champions on the WTA. And they also did it with a sense of fearlessness for the uncertainty that was in front of them. In a world full of sink-or-swim moments, the water felt just fine to these coaches. Listen to-—and learn from—the stories and philosophies that took Joyce from the playing court to the winner's box.