Tennis: Sharapova proves main attraction to book place in third round
MARIA SHARAPOVA lingered on Court One for a brief moment longer than usual. Blowing her customary kisses to every corner, she savoured the adulation and occasion as though it were her first time on a Wimbledon show court.
Serena Williams, on the other hand, found herself shunned by the All England Lawn Club, scheduled third on Court Two for her second-round contest against Anna Chakvetadze.
If the champion and world No 1 felt aggrieved, she did not express it. A date in front of the Queen on Centre would have been special but Williams has received her fair share of affection and attention in front of the Wimbledon masses down the years.
No, this was Sharapova's chance to shine again on the big stage and didn't it feel good. The Siberian's straightforward 6-1 6-4 win over the unseeded Ioana Raluca Olaru saw her advance past the second round in west London for the first time since 2007.
Sharapova had not long returned from a nine-month lay-off following shoulder surgery when she lost to Gisela Dulka last year. The 23-year-old also suffered her earliest exit at a Grand Slam when 154-ranked Alla Kudryavtseva shot her down in straight sets in 2008.
The Russian used to be known for her style and good looks; now she is shackled by talk of her right shoulder.
"We're professional athletes. We don't wake up in the morning and say, 'everything feels perfect'. Maybe when we're very young," Sharapova said. "But at this point in our careers, when we play tennis on a daily basis, we practise, we play matches, it's impossible to feel fit. That's the way it goes."
An injury-free Sharapova has underlined her credentials to break the Williams sisters' stronghold at Wimbledon again.
Sharapova, who powered her way past Serena Williams for her first Grand Slam and Wimbledon title, is potentially one win away against Czech Republic's Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova from setting up a repeat of the 2004 final. That seemed a long way off 12 months ago for the 16th seed who has averaged a Grand Slam win every two years since her maiden success. (© Daily Telegraph, London)