2011 Wimbledon

Wimbledon 2011: A Title for Maria Sharapova Doesn't Mean She's "Back"

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 30:  Maria Sharapova of Russia looks on during her semifinal round match against  Sabine Lisicki of Germany on Day Ten of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 30, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Adam LazarusSenior Analyst IJune 30, 2011

If Maria Sharapova hoists that Wimbledon dish or trophy thing into the air sometime Saturday, it will be a great story and will give the media plenty to fawn over. She's overcome injuries and a few years of less-than-Sharapova play, so winning her second Wimbledon and fourth career Grand Slam would be special for the suddenly "aged" 24-year-old.

But let's not get carried away.

If it's even possible for a Grand Slam triumph to be unimpressive, this is the prime example.

Forget that Kim Clijsters—winner of two of the previous three Grand Slams—wasn't even in the field.

Forget that the two-time defending champion, Serena Williams, was basically coming off a year-long hiatus while her equally decorated sister Venus was coming off a five-month hiatus.

And forget the fact that the world's top-ranked player, Caroline Wozniacki, failed to make it past the fourth round.

Sharapova did not, and will not, face a player in the field with a single Grand Slam title to their credit, or even a Grand Slam finals appearance. In fact, only two of her opponents, Anna Chakvetadze and Dominika Cibulková, had ever reached the semifinals of a Major championship.

Worse yet, her finals match with Petra Kvitová will be her first against any opponent seeded higher than 20th; Kvitová is seeded eighth.

I know that this is not Sharapova's fault and that she can only play the opponents seeded to her. And it would be wrong to say that she "doesn't deserve" the title.

But it's just as wrong to assume that Sharapova has regained her place atop the elite of women's tennis based on this fortnight in London.

I will say this, however. For Sharapova—not her critics and the naysayers—winning Wimbledon seven years after her breakthrough triumph at the All England Club should do wonders for her confidence and swagger. That may be enough to propel her back to the top.

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