I'm former US Open star and played doubles with Maria Sharapova – now I'm lieutenant in the Royal Thai Police Force | The Sun

TAMARINE TANASUGARN caused plenty of problems for the world's best tennis players.

But now she is restoring order as a lieutenant in the Royal Thai Police Force.

Tanasugarn, 46, was born in Los Angeles but played under the flag of Thailand where she grew up.

Her father Virachai was a lawyer and Thai Olympian basketball player who encouraged his daughter to pursue a career on the tennis court.

An appearance in the Wimbledon junior singles final in 1995 – her first venture on grass – proved she was one of the very best young players on the planet.

And in her professional career, Tanasugarn rose up to No19 in the world rankings – a record for a female Thai player.

She earned nearly $3.5million and collected four singles titles – plus eight in the doubles.

Two of those doubles victories came alongside Russian superstar Maria Sharapova.

The unlikely duo teamed up for glory at the Japan Open and the Luxembourg Open in October 2003.

Her best singles Grand Slam result was in 2008, reaching the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, losing to Venus Williams.

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Venus Williams said of the Thai talent:"Her game is really suited for the grass. Her serve is a slice that turns into you and it stays low. Her shots are really, really low to the ground.

"A lot of time I think I was battling just to stay down on the shots, and I felt good when I got one up in my strike zone."

And Tanasugran holds fond memories of her trips to the All England Club – although ironically preferred when she was NOT seeded.

She said: "The years I was seeded, I was in the upper locker rooms. This was a good experience to be in the exclusive spaces – they had a jacuzzi, you know! And it was nice to be calm, with not so many players.

"But my feeling was that the other locker room was my home. I felt warm, you can see more friends, it's more relaxed. And I showered in the same shower room all the time.

"If someone else was in there, I'd wait. I'd go and do stretching instead. I had weird routines!"

Though never a household name, Tanasugarn did beat the likes of Amelie Mauresmo, Jennifer Capriati, Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina and Simona Halep during her 22-year career on the WTA Tour.

She fared better in doubles, with a 2011 semi-final at the All England Club and a last-eight appearance at the US Open in 2004.

On the team stage, she led Thailand to two Olympic quarter-finals and the Fed Cup final.

But after deciding to retire from professional tennis in 2016, Tanasugarn stayed put in Thailand, playing in a few low-level tournaments.

She made a brief comeback and dreamed of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in a special tribute to her dying father – winning a $25k at Hua Hin in November 2019.

However, as well as staying involved in the game by launching her own The Ace academy to coach kids in Thailand, she also joined the police.

Tanasugarn graduated with a law degree from Bangkok University and rose to the rank of lieutenant.

Speaking in 2016, she told the Bangkok Post: "I did it for my parents.

"They would be happy now that I have good and secure employment."

Tanasugarn was keen to give something back to her mum and dad, who sacrificed so much to help their girl fulfil her tennis dream.

She added to the WTA: "When I was a junior, all my parents' friends said my dad was crazy.

"They said I needed to study, get a job, work at the bank or whatever – that's a good career.

"How can you earn in sports? In America and Europe, they knew that tennis could be a career, but not in Thailand at that time.

"I have to thank my dad – he wasn't a tennis player, he was a national basketball player, but he understood about athletics.

"He was never yelling or telling me negative things – he always said, just go out there and do your best.

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"When I was 17 or 18, I was stuck around world No200, 250 for almost two years.

"My dad had to sell his antique car, and that money helped us go to Europe to play tournaments for two months."

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