PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/GettyImages via Daylife
The sun almost shined on Maria Sharapova, the new World No. 1, French Open Champion and owner of the career slam. She accomplished all this with one dominating win over No. 21 seed Sara Errani in yesterday’s final. Her 6-3, 6-2 victory showed off the best of her lethally one-dimensional game. Her serve was as sure as it’s been since her shoulder surgery, her ground strokes pelting the corners of the court. Despite her militaristic game and femmebot habits – the rod straight posture, the clenched fists, the auto-shriek – Maria has developed into one of the great characters of the current game. When she melted into the clay yesterday, her hands covering her tears, you forgot about Maria the Superstar and saw Maria the Softie. I admit, I shed a tear or two, then laughed because no one has ever needed my tears less.
Haven’t seen this one before. . .KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/GettyImages via Daylife
My favorite quote from Maria’s press conference:
I have a tremendous amount of belief and pride in what I do. I love my work. I’ve always said this: I love playing tennis.
I had so many outs in my career. I could have said, I don’t need this. I have money; I have fame; I have victories; I have Grand Slams. But when your love for something is bigger than all those things, you continue to keep getting up in the morning when it’s freezing outside, when you know that it can be the most difficult day, when nothing is working, when you feel like the belief sometimes isn’t there from the outside world, and you seem so small.
But you can achieve great things when you don’t listen to all those things.
Maria called this the most “treasured” moment of her career, even sweeter than winning Wimbledon at age 17 vs. Serena Williams. She certainly seemed to savor the trophy ceremony, laughing along with Errani at the mixed up introduction, climbing into her player’s box to kiss babies, even speaking a little French to the fans. It was as if she was telling her younger self: see, this is how it’s done.
She may have savored the moment, but she wasted good champagne. Photo by Sindy Thomas – Pool/Getty Images via Daylife
Well done, Maria!
A few more of Maria’s more human moments in the post match presser:
Q. Are you going to be studying now in order to come back next year and be fluent? Maybe was that a start of a love affair? How are you going to experience Paris now maybe tonight by celebrating, going shopping, or what?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s fun. Actually when I first hurt my shoulder and I knew that I wouldn’t probably be playing for about two or three months, for some reason the first thing I did was I found a French school close to my house, and I did private lessons every single day for three months.
But after that I had to start traveling to Phoenix to see a shoulder specialist there. I was going from Monday to Friday, so I pretty much stopped, which was unfortunate.
I don’t know why, but everyone thought I was completely crazy because there were so many other things I could have done.
But it was really the first thing on my mind when I heard about my injury was that I was going to learn a language. I chose French. I didn’t achieve much in the language department, but, you know…
Q. What are your plans now? You must be excited to get on the grass given the form that you’re in?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I just spoke to my mom and she said ‑‑ Well, first, I’m actually debating with my coach whether I should have three or four days off. I’m going for four, he’s going for three, which is very typical. (Smiling.)
I called my mom. We talked for a little bit, and she said, You know, you have those four days off. I said, No, mom, maybe only three. She said, Okay, whatever it is, you enjoy for three or four days, and then it’s back to work.
Yeah, this is my philosophy in my family. Then I called my dad and he’s on the bike and he’s like, Oh, great job. He’s like, Talk to you later. I’m like… (Smiling.)
Wonderful, wonderful family support. Like the wind is the back, you know, and he’s like ‑‑ no, he was excited. He’s like, Yeah. Okay, I’m on the bicycle I’ll call you later. (Laughter.)
Oh, my family…
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images via Daylife
Maria’s even taking romantic shots with her take home trophy. I’m sure Sasha’s jealous. Via Facebook:
And now we wait for the rain to pass and Rafa and Nole to make their own bit of history.