Sharapova poised to reclaim Wimbledon crown

2011-07-01 07:32

London – Maria Sharapova will attempt to complete her long journey back from the wilderness at Wimbledon tomorrow when she takes on Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova for the women’s singles crown.

The 24-year-old Russian fifth seed is the overwhelming favourite to reclaim the title that she won for the first time in 2004, when as a fresh-faced teenager and took the All England Club by storm.

Sharapova’s victory in SW19 seven years ago was followed by further Grand Slam titles at the Australian and US Opens by the time she turned 21, a period that also saw her rise to world number one.

But Sharapova’s march to the summit of women’s tennis has been blown off course since 2007, when a serious shoulder injury led to a long lay-off which led many to wonder if she could ever be the same player.

Yet this season has provided the first solid proof that Sharapova is ready once more to fulfil her vast potential, with a semifinal run at the French Open followed by her serene progress into the Wimbledon final.

With Serena and Venus Williams showing signs of decline, Justine Henin retired and Kim Clijsters injured, there is a vacancy at the top of the women’s game that Sharapova looks equipped to fill.

Sharapova admitted she had endured dark days in 2008 and 2009, when she was struggling back from shoulder surgery and she dropped out of the top 100.

“There were doubts because I had many expectations on when I would come back. I set myself certain goals and I never really met any of them, to be honest,” she said. “So that was frustrating.

“You’re going to have certain doubts when you go through something like that knowing that not too many players have recovered fully.”

Sharapova insists, however, that quitting was never an option, and she remained driven by the memory of the glittering early years of her career.

“I’m not really the type of person that ever gives up. Even though it was tough, I believed in myself,” she said.

“I give a lot of credit to my team that was around me. It takes a good team to really keep you in high spirits. I think when you know how good it feels to lift the big trophies, the ones you really want in your career, and when you know how good you can play, I never had the interest of stopping. I always felt like I had a lot better things in me.”

Sharapova has yet to drop a set en route to this year’s final, and confidently disposed of the big-serving German wildcard Sabine Lisicki in the semifinal, winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

Sharapova is bracing for a sterner challenge from Kvitova in tomorrow’s final, however, the 21-year-old Czech challenger is appearing in a Grand Slam final for the first time.

“I expect her to be a really tough opponent because she’s a really good grass court player,” said Sharapova, who won her only previous meeting with Kvitova on hard court at Memphis last year.

“She’s also a lefty, which on grass is very tricky. It will be tough. She’s been playing really good tennis.”

Kvitova is the first left-hander to make the final at the All England Club since her childhood inspiration Martina Navratilova in 1990.

“I saw Martina in the locker room and she wished me good luck. I’m so happy but I don’t really believe I am in the final,” said Kvitova, who upset fourth seed Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the final.

Azarenka believes Kvitova is capable of bucking the odds for a second time when she faces Sharapova in the final.

She said: “I think she can beat anybody any day, because right now she has really good game. She’s really going for it. She’s going to play like this, I’m sure she has all the chances to win the next match,” she said.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.