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Monday, June 22, 2009

Sharapova relishes home comforts in SW19

Photo Titled Sharapova stretch
Sharapova stretch

Maria Sharapova’s love affair with the All England Club began at the tender age of 17 when she disposed of Serena Williams to earn her first Wimbledon crown. Five years on, the Russian’s passion for the tournament and the Wimbledon way of life shows no sign of waning.

“It’s the little things like living in a house, having a normal key instead of the hotel key, cooking your own breakfast, making your own tea. It’s a little homely,” she smiled after the match.

“To me, it feels like this is where tennis is meant to be played. It feels very traditional. We only play a couple of tournaments on grass. When you get on, it’s just a feeling of excitement because I’ve definitely had wonderful memories here and good results in the past, ever since I was a junior.”

In fact, Sharapova is just pleased to be competing again. Last autumn, the 22-year-old underwent an operation for a torn rotator cuff in her serving shoulder and has since endured a nine-month absence from the game.
“I’m a big competitor and I love going out on the court and competing. I love having a challenge in front of me,” she said. “I’m just so happy to be on the tour. As many matches as I can play, I’m happy.

“If someone told me four months ago that I’d be here playing Wimbledon, I wouldn’t be surprised but I would be really happy about the fact. And I am happy to be here.”

Indeed, Sharapova was put to the test in her encounter with Ukrainian qualifier Viktoriya Kutuzova but emerged with a 7-5, 6-4 victory.

She admitted her opponent began extremely well but added that she was able to give Kutuzova a little bit of her own medicine. “I just stayed consistent. I made her play an extra ball. I thought I returned pretty good today.”

The No. 24 seed is not resting on her laurels, however, and claims there is still a lot of work to be done until she gets back to the Maria that is 100%.

She also points out that there is a thin line between winning and losing. “It’s just the combination of a few things coming together, you know: body feeling good, playing good, moving well. I’m just glad I pulled through today.”
Now the Russian will head back to her “home from home” in Wimbledon and continue preparation for her 2009 campaign.

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