Tennis star Maria Sharapova has been handed the honor of beinge first woman to carry Russia’s flag at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The former world number one will lead the Russian delegation to the London Olympics, slated for later this month.

The French Open champion, 25, who has lived in the US since the age of seven, will be the first woman to carry the Russian flag. Naming Sharapova breaks with tradition of the Games, as the honor was traditionally given to famous male athletes like Wrestler Alexander Karelin and Swimmer Alexander Popov. Yet the Russian Olympic Committee is delighted with their decision.

“Sharapova will carry our flag,” President Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), Alexander Zhukov said. “She was the most worthy candidate among all our athletes. In June she claimed her fourth grand slam title (French Open).”

However, Sharapova, making her Games debut, revealed she had been informed of the decision two weeks ago. “I am so honored, and especially excited as it will be my first Olympics in my career,” she said. “I have had to keep this hush hush for two weeks and keeping secrets is not my best quality.”

This year, Serbia and Spain will also have a tennis star as flag-bearer as the current Men’s World number 2 Novak Djokovic, and Beijing Champion Rafael Nadal have been nominated the prestigious role by their respective countries.

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