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Sharapova Returns to Sochi to Cover Olympics for NBC

Sharapova carrying the Russian flag at the 2012 London Olympics. Mark Humphrey

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova will return to the city where she grew up as a child to cover the upcoming Winter Olympics as a correspondent for U.S. television network NBC, Sharapova and the network said.

"It's meaningful for this year's Olympic Games to be hosted in my hometown of Sochi," Sharapova said in a statement to RIA Novosti. "Being a part of the NBC family is exciting as I'll be able to share with the world the unique culture and history of Sochi."

It was not immediately clear what events Sharapova will be covering for NBC, which holds the U.S. media rights for the Sochi Olympics next February.

According to the executive director of NBC Olympics, Jim Bell, Sharapova "transcends sports as one of the world's most recognizable stars."

"Growing up in Sochi until she was six years old and with family and friends still living in the area, Maria will offer a unique and personal perspective on a place she knows so well," Bell said in a statement.

Sharapova, who carried the Russian flag at the opening ceremony of last year's Summer Olympics in London, said in a statement to the U.S. entertainment website E! News that the Olympic experience "is unlike anything else."

"As a past Olympian, it means even more to me for the Games to be hosted in such a remarkable place," the No. 4 women's tennis player said.

Sharapova is not the first Olympic athlete with Russian roots to be enlisted by NBC to cover the Sochi games, which are slated to open Feb. 7 and wrap up on Feb. 23.

In October it was announced that Nastia Liukina, a U.S. Olympic gold medal gymnast and the daughter of two former Soviet gymnastics champions, will also cover the games for NBC.

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