What Maria Sharapova's Loss to Serena Williams Means for Wimbledon

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2013

ROME, ITALY - MAY 16:  Maria Sharapova of Russia in action during her third round match against Sloane Stephens of the USA on day five of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2013 at the Foro Italico Tennis Centre on May 16, 2013 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Maria Sharapova wasn't able to defend her French Open title after being ousted by Serena Williams in the final.

Throughout her career, the Russian superstar has had mixed results in the season's second major. She finally broke through to complete the career Grand Slam last year but wasn't able to replicate that result this year.

Williams cruised, winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 to capture her second French Open crown and 16th Grand Slam title of her career.

There are two ways to view Sharapova's inability to defend the title. In one respect, it's not a major shock, because the clay courts don't fit her playing style well. She's a pure power player who relies on her ability to wear opponents down until they can't defend her elite offense.

On the other hand, her success last year seemed to illustrate progress on the surface. Add in the fact she was 11-2 on clay in 2013 before the French Open, and there was reason to believe the No. 2 seed could make another championship run.

It didn't happen. Her repeat bid fell just short after a strong showing prior to the final.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how Sharapova handles the rest of the season. She's a streaky player, which means the disappointing result in Paris could derail the rest of the season. Her task heading into Wimbledon is to make sure that doesn't become the case.

The bad news is that the grass courts of the All England Club haven't been kind to Sharapova in recent years. She has advanced beyond the fourth round just once since 2007. She made it to the final in 2011 before losing to Petra Kvitova.

Aside from reaching the semifinals last year, she's endured similar struggles at the US Open recently. So it's going to take a sustained effort to bounce back strong in the season's remaining majors.

Sharapova should still enter Wimbledon as one of the favorites because, when she's at the top of her game, she's clearly a title threat. Whether she will bring that form with her to the next major is the biggest question mark.

It won't take long to find out the answer, with play getting started at the All England Club in just a matter of weeks.