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Thu Apr 17 12:16:44 SAST 2014

Sharapova comes back down to earth

Reuters | 24 June, 2012 09:510 Comments
The Championships - Wimbledon 2012 - Previews
Maria Sharapova of Russia participates in a practice session for The Championships at Wimbledon on June 23, 2012 in London, England
Image by: Clive Rose / Getty Images

After the stellar delight of winning the French Open to complete a career grand slam, Maria Sharapova has come back down to earth at Wimbledon, scene of one of her greatest disappointments a year ago.

“I was walking around for three days with the biggest smile,” Sharapova told a Wimbledon news conference on Saturday, recalling her Roland Garros triumph a fortnight ago. “Then I got here and I better get back to reality.”

Reality meant getting used to grass again, and learning from the experience of losing to Czech Petra Kvitova in last year’s Wimbledon final, said Sharapova, world number one since her Paris victory.

“As tough as it is to lose grand slam finals, probably one of the toughest things for a tennis player, it’s really about getting yourself back out there and improving and hoping for another chance,” the Russian said.

First, she had needed to get used to grass again, with a week of practice at Wimbledon, after dominating the red clay at Roland Garros.

“I think it’s the toughest back-to-back grand slam-wise, no doubt, especially if you’re coming off a French Open win or a final. As much as you want to celebrate and enjoy, you come here and it’s like a whole new ballgame.

“It’s certainly an adjustment. The first two days you’re like: ‘Wait, I can’t really slide that much’. So you have to take a few more steps.

“But the first few days are always so much fun. It’s such a different balance, a fast game. I feel like coming from the clay you learn so much about the point and the development of the rally. You get on grass and...you’re not playing more than five-ball rallies.”

Sharapova, who still has to take particular care of her shoulder after surgery in 2008, said she would be careful not to get over-confident at Wimbledon.

“I always think if you think everything is great and you’re feeling good, then you should be extremely worried,” said Sharapova, who won Wimbledon in 2004 and faces Australian Anastasia Rodionova in her opening match this time.

After the All-England tournament comes the London Olympic tennis event at Wimbledon and Sharapova said she was looking forward to competing in her first Games, and to carrying the Russian flag at the opening ceremony.

“It was (a) huge (honour),” she said. “I had to read the text message five times and read it to other people to make sure I got it correct.

“I got (the request) in the morning after my third round at the French Open,” she said, adding with a smile: “I was very happy to accept.”   

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