Maria Sharapova eyes 2nd Wimbledon championship
WIMBLEDON, England (AP)—For all that Maria Sharapova already has accomplished in tennis, a Grand Slam title now would be more gratifying than those from the past.
“If I do achieve that—if it’s here, if it’s somewhere else—I think it would be my biggest achievement in my career,” she said Saturday at Wimbledon, where play begins Monday.
Sharapova’s most recent major title came at the Australian Open in January 2008. In October of that year, she needed surgery on her right, racket-swinging shoulder—a rather important part of a tennis player’s body, it seems safe to say—and she was sidelined for the better part of 10 months.
“I’ve said it since I came back from my injury. I said that if I could win another Grand Slam, it would mean more than the previous ones that I have. … All of a sudden, one day, it was kind of taken away from you,” Sharapova said.
“You kind of have to step back and look at things from a different angle,” she said of her time away from the game. “And then when you get back there, you basically start from zero. You try to get yourself to a level where you can compete with the top players, beating them day in, day out. Yeah, it’s a long process.”
She won her first Grand Slam championship at the All England Club in 2004, when she was all of 17. Her second came two years later at the U.S. Open, followed by her victory in Australia.
Sharapova then went more than three years without making it back to the semifinals at any major tournament until getting that far at the French Open this month.
That proved to her—and to everyone else—that Sharapova, who briefly was No. 1 in the WTA rankings, is still capable of contending for tennis’ top prizes.
She’s seeded fifth at Wimbledon, and will play 2007 U.S. Open semifinalist Anna Chakvetadze of Russia in the first round.
“At the end of the day, you really just do this for yourself,” Sharapova said. “It’s really about your commitment and your drive; whether you want it or not. You can have as many positive words, and it’s really helpful and beneficial, but if you wake up and you don’t want it, then you’re never going to achieve anything.”
COME ON, MOM! French Open champion Li Na might need to explain to her family how significant it is to win a Grand Slam tournament.
After becoming the first Chinese player to win a major singles title two weeks ago, Li received a text message from her mother. A congratulatory note? Nope. Mom just wanted to know when her daughter would get a chance to come home.
“I say, ‘After Wimbledon.’ And then she never (wrote) me back again, so … ,” Li said Saturday.
Li added that she thinks her mother knows she won the French Open, but clarified: “I don’t know if even she (knows) how big (the) tournament is. I didn’t ask her.”
Ask other players on the women’s tour, though, and they’ll be able to answer just fine.
Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, still searching for her first Grand Slam championship, said Li’s victory is good for the sport.
“I’m sure that a lot of young girls and boys in China now also want to play tennis because they want to play like Li Na,” Wozniacki said. “It’s great for tennis that we can have it even bigger as a sport than it is now.”
KING’S 50th: Billie Jean King will be at Wimbledon for the 50th consecutive year as player or spectator. The 67-year-old King owns a total of 20 Wimbledon titles, a record she shares with Martina Navratilova.
“It feels like my second home,” said King, who won six singles, 10 doubles and four mixed doubles championships at the All England Club.
“I loved that Centre Court the first time I went out there,” she added. “It’s lovely. The people are nice.”
King earned her first Wimbledon title in 1961 at age 17, teaming with 18-year-old Karen Hantze. King’s last trophy at the All England Club came in doubles in 1979—paired with Navratilova.
Last year, on Court 16, King hit her first tennis balls after having double-knee replacement surgery.
“I hit about two or three and then got off the court, because I didn’t have all white on, and I really shouldn’t have been out there,” King said. “But I did it.”