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TENNIS > Sharapova aims to make more history at Wimbledon

LONDON - Agence France-Presse

After the delight of winning the French Open to complete a career grand slam, Maria Sharapova now eyes Wimbledon title

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Having clinched her first French Open title, Russian tennis star Mari Sharapova hopes to win the title in Wimbledon, where she was beaten in the final by Petra Kvitova lasr year. AFP Photo

Having clinched her first French Open title, Russian tennis star Mari Sharapova hopes to win the title in Wimbledon, where she was beaten in the final by Petra Kvitova lasr year. AFP Photo

Maria Sharapova admits winning Wimbledon, which starts today, just weeks after securing her first French Open title would be the crowning glory of her career.

Sharapova captivated the All England Club as a 17-year-old who came from nowhere to beat Serena Williams in the final eight years ago and the Russian is convinced she is finally back in the right form and condition to emulate that astonishing triumph.

The Russian’s victory over Sara Errani in the Roland Garros final earlier this month was a cathartic moment for the 25-year-old, who had gone four years without winning a major as she struggled with the aftermath of serious shoulder surgery.

Her grueling journey back to Grand Slam glory, and the world number one ranking she now holds for the first time since 2008, is a testament to Sharapova’s fierce competitive instincts, but she has never been one to rest on her laurels. “I don’t know if words can really describe the feeling of winning a Grand Slam,” Sharapova said on the eve of the tournament.

“I think everybody knows the meaning of this tournament for me, ever since I was a young girl, how special it was. To be part of its history for the rest of my career and life means a lot. I certainly hope I can achieve the success I had many years ago here.”

Sharapova was beaten in the final by Petra Kvitova last year and her bid for revenge could be aided by the relatively poor form of several of the top seed’s main rivals.

Kvitova arrives in London desperately hoping to rediscover the winning feeling she savored 12 months ago.

Since defeating Sharapova, the 22-year-old has struggled to live up to her new billing as a major force in the women’s game.She has no titles on the WTA Tour this year and suffered semi-final defeats against Sharapova in the Australian and French Opens.

Serena’s form questioned

One of the most fascinating sub-plots of the tournament will be the form of Serena Williams, who could meet Sharapova in a re-match of the 2004 final.

Losing to France’s Virginie Razzano in the French Open first round last month ranked as the worst Grand Slam result of Williams’ illustrious career.

If the 30-year-old American, who has 13 majors to her name - including four at Wimbledon - is in the right frame of mind, there is every chance she could bounce back quickly.

Prior to her Paris nightmare, Williams had been in good form, winning 17 successive claycourt matches and she is usually even more dominant at Wimbledon.

“Whether I had won in Paris or lost like I did in the first round, I am always extremely motivated. If anything, I think losing makes me even more motivated,” Serena said. “If I didn’t feel confident I wouldn’t be here. Especially at this tournament, I think if you have a lot of confidence you can play really well. I don’t know why, but I get confident out here. I have fun. I enjoy playing on this grass. So maybe that’s been able to help me.”

World number two Victoria Azarenka could be a serious threat if she can recapture the form that saw her win the Australian Open and three other titles in the first four months of the year.

June/25/2012

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