Maria Sharapova is the face of women’s tennis in 2012.
She is fresh off soundly defeating Sara Errani 6-3, 6-2 for her first career win at the French Open, capping off a career Grand Slam. She made it to the finals of the Australian Open in the other Grand Slam of the year before that.
Oddly enough, she has only won each Grand Slam once, but there is no doubt the newly ranked No. 1 women’s player in the world will be the favorite at both Wimbledon and the US Open later this year.
In a time when tennis has been rather faceless, Sharapova has been one of the only consistent presences.
Serena Williams continues to struggle with her conditioning and love for the game. Victoria Azarenka may have won the Australian Open earlier this year, but can never seem to piece together multiple strong outstanding performances in a major tournament. Caroline Wozniacki is currently a mess.
At the age of 25, Sharapova will have roughly five more years of high-level play left in her body, which gives her a chance to do a second lap of the Grand Slam tour.
She already has 27 WTA singles titles to her name, has been ranked No. 1 on five different occasions and has been in seven separate Grand Slam finals (4-3 record). She is just the sixth player in the Open Era to complete the career Grand Slam.
Who knows how many major titles she would own if it wasn’t for a shoulder injury, which forced her to miss 10 months in 2008-09 (a full seasons worth of Grand Slam events).
Her unique ability to use the reverse forehand has stymied opponents for years. Her serve comes with some serious heat and she has terrific foot speed for a player that stands at 6’2’’.
Maybe that’s what she’ll be most remembered for. She is one of the tallest players to ever grace a women’s court and has always used her long legs and arms to cover an incredible amount of ground.
She will be holding the Russian flag at the 2012 London Olympics, an incredible honor almost never given to a woman. She is a national hero, and is arguably one of the top 10 greatest women’s players of all-time.
And she still has plenty of matches left to play.
Enjoy Sharapova, you are truly witnessing greatness.