French Open 2012: What Maria Sharapova's Win Means for Her Legacy and for Tennis

Tommy KeelerCorrespondent IIIJune 12, 2012

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 09:  French Open women's champion Maria Sharapova of Russia poses with the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen near the Eiffel Tower after her victory earlier in the day in the women's singles final against Sara Errani of Italy during day 14 of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 9, 2012 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

There's a new queen at the top of the women's game, and she has a familiar face. Maria Sharapova is back on top, and I think she is here to stay.

Sharapova's French Open title, career slam and rise to No. 1 in the rankings does a lot of things for her career.

First I think it elevates Sharapova to a status as one of the game's elite players. I'm not saying it puts her in the top 10, but it does put her solidly in the top 20 or 30 of all time. How Sharapova does the rest of her career will determine exactly what her legacy is. She is now one of only 10 players to have a career slam on the women's side.

There a couple things missing from Sharapova's legacy, but they are all things she could still get. One of them is more slams. At 25, I could easily see Sharapova play another four years, racking up four or five more majors. That would put her around eight or nine for her career, and put her in the top 15, I would say, of all time. The fact that she has a career slam could also help elevate her a little higher.

Another key for Sharapova will be racking up more overall titles. She currently has 27, if she get to around 40 or so, that would put her close to the all-time top 10.

The other big thing is the ranking. She has only been No. 1 for 18 weeks now, although she's guaranteed to be there for at least another three. I think she's about to go on a big run at the top. After Wimbledon, she has far less points to defend than all of the other players in the top six in the world. I think she will stay at No. 1 for the rest of the year, and establish herself as the best player in the world.

I know Serena Williams is great, but she's also getting older and I'm not sure she has another big push to dominate the game left in her. I believe the women's tour needs Sharapova at the top. Sharapova is a star, and the tour desperately needs a star to take over and help make it even more popular.

I also think the French Open win will take the pressure off of Sharapova. She has shown that she can come back from her injury, now she can focus on playing at her best and just see how great she can be.

I think Sharapova can still accomplish a lot more, and if she does she will go down as one of the greats of her generation. However she showed on Saturday, that no matter what happens from here she will forever be a part of the history of the sport.