Life has not been easy for Maria Sharapova since she returned from her well-publicised ban. In 2017, she was denied a wild card for the French Open and missed the entire grass season due to injury.
This year, she battled various niggles between February and April as she suffered three consecutive first round losses. But everything came together for the Russian during the clay swing, and now she is relishing her time on the WTA tour again.
“It’s a very special career,” Sharapova said in her press conference. “There is a lot of repetition, but there are also a lot of amazing moments, (like) walking through tunnels of Grand Slams and the camera is in front of you, there is a reason they’re there, the anticipation.”
“I love those feelings and I love finding a way to win. I don’t think there is really anything that sitting in an office can replicate, and it’s in the moment, which is very different.”
Younger generation take chances
The Russian was asked about the different challenges players now face on tour as young players arrive full of aggression and purpose.
“You see it from the younger generation. There is no holding back,” said Sharapova. “Coming into a tournament and thinking you might get a few rounds to warm up is no longer the case. I think that speaks for itself in terms of the quality of players.”
“Evidently there is not as much consistency in the top 10 as there has been maybe years ago. That’s no secret, either.”
“But it’s tough to focus on all the surrounding things. You ask me about the draw, you ask me about other players. (But) my goal is very single-handedly to take care of my own business.”
The Russian continued, “Of course (the young players) are aggressive. They have to be. They have to take chances against players that have been on the tour for many years.”
“I have experience behind my back, and I think (today’s match was) a match that (Donna Vekic) looked forward to for many years, and she was going to come out and play great tennis. I expected that.”
Back on the biggest stage
Sharapova will face Karolina Pliskova in round three, and she is excited about the prospect of playing on Court Philippe Chatrier for the first time in years.
“I would love to be there again, of course,” the two-time French Open champion said. “I think from a draw perspective, it’s an anticipated seeding match. And it’s been a while since I played Pliskova. It will be our first meeting on clay.”
“It’s been a few years since I have been back on the court, so if I do have a chance to play on it I will welcome it with open arms, and if it’s another court then it will (also) be great.”
[Originally published on ubitennis.com]