Queen Maria back on her throne after injury battle

It was no coincidence on Thursday that when it became certain that Maria Sharapova was back as world number one, there was general satisfaction within the WTA and in women's tennis in general.

The Russian is unmistakenly the sport's glamour girl, it's biggest draw and, in a hugely competitive market a valuable motor and spearhead for all concerned.

More than that, she is the most recognisable sportswoman in the world and the biggest earner, rivalling even the big boys in male sport.

How she got there has been well documented over the years - from her humble beginnings in the small Siberian town of Nyagan to the Nick Bollettieri tennis academy courts in Florida.

Leaving her mother behind in Russia at the age of nine and travelling and living on the cheap with father Yuri before making her tournament debut in 2001 in an ITF event in Sarasota.

Sharapova has not forgotten those years and her roots back in Siberia.

"I'm really happy and proud of where I came from and where I was born and how it's fun to hear when they introduce me, they don't say just born in Russia, they actually say I was born in Nyagan, Siberia," she said earlier in the tournament at Roland Garros.

"Every time they say that, you can hear the crowd going, Whoa. Like I don't think people actually realize that's where I was born.

"When they say it, I always feel so proud, no matter - like when they even say I've won the Grand Slams or been number one. When they say that, I get goosebumps, because I'm so proud coming from there and getting to the position I am today."

Sharapova has always been precocious and it was at Wimbledon in 2004 as a 17-year-old that she took the tennis world by storm, and by shrieks, as she powered her way into the final and proceeded to blast her way past Serena Williams, then the dominant force in the game, for her first Grand Slam title.

A star was born from that moment on as the world became aware of the tall, beautiful blonde with a steely determination and a thunderous forehand

Sharapova immediately became an ad man's dream and her face and silhouette have since adorned many products from perfumes to clothes.

It was not quite so simple on the court.

In an age when the Williams sisters and Belgian pair Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters made it highly competitive at the top end of women's tennis, Sharapova held her own in the top five, winning her second Grand Slam title at the 2006 US Open.

She became world number one for the second time after losing to Serena Williams in the Australian Open final of 2007, a tournament she won the following year for her third Grand Slam title.

All seemed set for her to dominate, but that was when a serious right shoulder injury struck and nearly wrecked her career.

What followed was a 10-month long battle to recover, not knowing whether she would ever play competitively again.

Bit by bit she put things back together, shortening her service action to avoid the injury and the pain returning.

It was then that she began to cherish another ambition - to win the French Open title, complete a career Grand Slam and prove wrong all those who said that with her flat-hitting and suspect movement on clay, that she had no chance of winning on the surface.

On Saturday, Sharapova did just that, with her 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Italy's Sara Errani.

And with the world number one spot back in her possession, and a possible marriage to Slovenian basketball player Sasha Vujacic later this year, the world could not be a better place for her.

Wise beyond her 25 years, Sharapova often enjoys moments of quiet reflection.

"It's a long road back - it's a long process," she said after regaining the world number one spot.

"It's a lot of days of frustration and uncertainly not knowing how much you want it, not knowing whether it would be a moment like that for you again.

"There are definitely a lot of tough things you have to go through to get to this point, but when you get there and you look back at the things that you did and the work that you put in and the toughest days that you can remember, it's all really worth it."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions
    Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions

    Indonesia on Sunday signalled it was determined to push ahead with the execution of eight foreign drug convicts, despite a growing wave of global condemnation led by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. Authorities on Saturday gave formal notice to the eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- that they would be executed by firing squad imminently, along with an Indonesian prisoner. The group have been moved to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan, where …

  • Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation
    Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation

    The Philippines called on its Southeast Asian neighbours to unite in urging China to halt reclamation of land in the South China Sea, but the call failed to raise widespread support ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Its claims overlap with those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in filling in land in contested territory …

  • Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea
    Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Philippines on Sunday urged its fellow Southeast Asian countries to take immediate steps to halt land reclamation by China in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, warning that failure to do so will see Beijing take "de facto control" of the area. …

  • Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in disputed waters
    Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in disputed waters

    The Philippines on Sunday called on neighbouring Southeast Asian nations to push for an immediate halt to China's reclamation in the disputed South China Sea ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, with overlapping claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in building an airstrip suitable for military use in contested …

  • President to appeal for Filipina's life at Malaysia summit
    President to appeal for Filipina's life at Malaysia summit

    The Philippine president said Sunday he would appeal for mercy for a Filipina who is due to be executed in Indonesia in two days' time. President Benigno Aquino said he would take the opportunity to seek clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, who is due to be put to death on Tuesday, while in Malaysia for a regional summit Monday. "Once I am there, I will try to speak to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia to appeal once more for her case," Aquino said. She was arrested in 2009 with 2.6 kilograms …

  • U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia not to carry out executions
    U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia not to carry out executions

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to Indonesia on Saturday not to execute 10 prisoners, including two Australians, for drug-related crimes. Indonesia has so far informed seven of the 10 death row inmates, including the Australians and one Nigerian, that they will be executed in a matter of days, possibly as soon as Tuesday. Nationals from Brazil, Ghana and the Philippines are also on Indonesia's death row. A temporary reprieve was granted to a French citizen who will not …

  • Beijing 'poised to take de facto control' of S. China Sea'
    Beijing 'poised to take de facto control' of S. China Sea'

    Beijing is poised to take "de facto control" of the South China Sea, the Philippines warned Sunday, but its call for a robust Southeast Asian response at a regional summit was shot down. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the strategic body of water, but Beijing claims nearly all of it, and its increasingly strident territorial assertions have caused concern in the region and beyond. "(China) is poised to consolidate de facto control of the South China Sea," …

  • US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations
    US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations

    The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington’s next phase in its Asia “pivot,” deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region. The Asia “pivot” has already seen US Marines rotating through the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options