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Maria Sharapova says a 2011 Wimbledon win would be biggest Grand Slam of her career

After winning Wimbledon in 2004 with an unlikely victory over Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova has won only two other Grand Slam events, and none since her 2008 shoulder surgery.

June 18, 2011|By Diane Pucin
  • Maria Sharapova practices at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on Saturday in preparation for the Wimbledon tournament that begins Monday.
Maria Sharapova practices at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club… (Oli Scarff / Getty Images )

Reporting from Wimbledon, England

Maria Sharapova won the first of her three major championships at Wimbledon in 2004. She was 17 years old, she stunned Serena Williams, 6-1, 6-4, in the final, and it seemed as if the teenager who pounded the ball consistently and was full of confidence would collect Grand Slam titles routinely.

Sharapova is 24 now. She also owns a U.S. Open title and an Australian Open title, but the Russian has not won a major since she had shoulder surgery in 2008.

At Wimbledon, which begins Monday, Sharapova is seeded fifth. The women's draw is so wide open that Williams, despite sitting out almost a year because of injuries after she took the title here last year, is the betting favorite to win again. Sharapova is also getting strong backing.

"If I could win another Grand Slam," Sharapova said Saturday, "it would mean more than the previous ones that I have, because of the injury and everything.

"You get back from that, you basically start from zero. If I do achieve that [another major win], if it's here or somewhere else, I think it would be my biggest achievement of my career."

Roof advantage

The weather forecast calls for loads of rain through Thursday, and fourth-seeded Andy Murray, a Scotsman, concedes that being the hometown favorite could be a big help.

Centre Court has a roof. Murray, along with top-seeded Rafael Nadal, second-seeded Novak Djokovic and third-seeded Roger Federer, a six-time Wimbledon champion, probably will be scheduled to play on Centre Court. So they can play while others could be twiddling thumbs in the locker room and then get stuck playing back-to-back matches later in the tournament.

"There's definitely an advantage to get your match finished, for sure," Murray said. "If you can get on and get your match done, you don't have to play back-to-back days. That's tough when you're playing best of five sets."

diane.pucin@latimes.com

twitter.com/mepucin

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