7 years on, going for glory
Maria Sharapova will attempt to complete her long journey back from the wilderness at Wimbledon on Saturday when she takes on Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova for the women's singles crown.sports Updated: Jul 02, 2011 01:05 IST
Maria Sharapova will attempt to complete her long journey back from the wilderness at Wimbledon on Saturday 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 she 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 fulfill her vast potential, with a semi-final run at the French Open followed by her serene progress into the final.
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.”
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 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. The Russian is bracing for a sterner challenge from Kvitova in Saturday's final however, the 21-year-old Czech challenger who is appearing in a Grand Slam final for the first time.
Kvitova is also the first left-hander to make the final at the All England Club since her childhood inspiration Martina Navratilova in 1990.