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Marvellous Maria heats up Melbourne

January 16, 2005
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Russian tennis sensation Maria Sharapova, fresh from her first round win at the Australian Open, has been exploring some of the wonders to be found in Melbourne. And first up was a dive into the undersea world, when she unveiled her newly designed tennis racket - the Turbo Shark - in the perfect setting of the Melbourne Aquarium.

The teenage Wimbledon champion enjoyed a wander through the labyrinth of glass tanks and transparent tunnels, surrounded by an amazing array of aquatic creatures ranging from sharks to giant stingrays. The aquarium is just one of the many attractions worth visiting in the capital of the province of Victoria. In the heart of the city centre, the massive Federation Square is made up of an eclectic array of galleries, cinemas, restaurants, cafes and bars.

While the Melbourne Museum and National Gallery of Victoria are two of the bigger must-see venues, art lovers will also revel in Flinders Lane - the city’s key commercial gallery precinct, housing a dense network of commercial galleries, a number of which specialise in indigenous art.

“Marvellous” Melbourne, as it was dubbed in the 19th Century, is considered the most open-minded and progressive Australian city and boasts a lively, cosmopolitan feel thanks to waves of immigration from Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Architecturally, the city is a mixture of old-European elegance and modern new-world style effectively serviced by a handy network of trams.

After two weeks of hard-fought, on-court battles at the Oz Open, Maria may be up for some much deserved rest and relaxation later on, and the more mellow areas just outside the city could be her best bet. Melbourne is surrounded by hundreds of picturesque mountains, turquoise lakes and lush valleys. Nature lovers from across the globe have always been drawn to the penguin parade at nearby Phillip Island, while gourmets tend to flock to the Yarra Valley’s wineries to sample some of the world-class pinot-noir vintages and fine dining available in the area's many restaurants.

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Teenage Wimbledon champion Maria admiring the creatures inhabiting the world famous Melbourne Aquarium

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