Though she enjoyed a World No. 1 ranking in 2005, she is now insouciant about her place in the WT A. “To be honest,” she shrugs, “ranking is not a huge issue. It’s more important to me to win Grand Slams and titles.”
Her love of the game overcomes any obstacle and when the topic of her future retirement arises, she declares adamantly that she’ll be sticking around for many years to come.
That would include winning last year’s French Open and becoming the 10th woman ever to win a career Grand Slam, which the 25-year-old Russia-born beauty admits was a career highlight.
“It felt incredible,” she says now. “It was one of the best memories in my career so far. It’s important to have goals, and [winning the French Open] was one of them. I had wished to win the French Open from a young age, and I thought that it would be difficult to win [last year] because I wasn’t physically ready; it takes so much physical demand.”
She adds, “I knew I was working towards that goal. I never knew that it would actually happen, especially after my injury, and being the first Grand Slam after my injury.”
A rotator cuff tear forced Sharapova to bow out of a bevy of high-profile tennis tournaments in 2008, including the Beijing Olympics, the US Open and the WT A Tour Championships. She then underwent shoulder surgery and ensuing rehabilitation, and did not return to the top ten until 2011.
Though she has struggled, her love of the game overcomes any obstacle and when the topic of her future retirement arises, she declares adamantly that she’ll be sticking around for many years to come.
“There are still so many years left in my tennis career that I can’t even begin to think about retirement,” she says. “It’s the feeling that, when I get up in the morning, this is still something I really love to do, and I know that I can achieve a lot more. On a daily basis, tennis is my priority.”
Sharapova is shrewd, however, and is setting herself up nicely for the day – far in the future – when a tennis career is no longer an option.
“During the time I’m playing, I’ll be doing a lot of things to set myself up for the future so that I won’t be empty-handed when it’s over,” she reveals. “I have my candy company, [Sugarpova] and [collaborations with] Cole Haan and Nike. The interesting things that I’ve been doing for many years are turning into a reality; they’re moving along in a nice way and direction.”
Sugarpova is her latest labor of love, a candy line the tennis pro launched in late 2012 that is sold exclusively at famed Fifth Avenue retailer Hendri Bendel. The collection, which is stocked in minibar selections of some of the world’s top luxury resorts, consists of twelve different varieties of candies, which are represented by a bold and colorful pair of lips that represent the many fun-loving sides of their namesake creator: chic, flirty, silly, splashy, cheeky, sassy, spooky, smitten, quirky and sporty. It is available for purchase online at HenriBendel.com, ITSUGAR.com, and Sugarpova.com.
In addition to her commercial ventures, she’ll also continue to focus on her philanthropic efforts, which includes working with the United Nations Development Programme, providing scholarships to art students who cannot afford their tuition with The Maria Sharapova Foundation Scholarship for Youth and opening a sports center in Belarus.
She will not, contrary to many reports, be trying her hand at acting. “I certainly don’t have time for that,” she sniffs. “Just because you’re good at one thing doesn’t mean you’re automatically good at everything. I have other things outside of tennis that keep me busy, and I don’t think I have enough patience [to be an actor]. I like being competitive, and the movie business is repetitive. You do so many takes and constantly seeking perfection all the time.”
Without Hollywood in her future, the Manhattan Beach resident (who, in fact, received the city’s key in 2012) will focus on the important things: fitting in time with her family, indulging in her self-proclaimed “biggest luxury” of collecting modern art, eating her favorite foods at local spots like the M.B. Post and Simmzy’s, overindulging in her favorite Sugarpova treat, a blend of strawberry and vanilla licorice she calls Quirky, and working if all off with a whopping eight plus hours a day of exercise.
So she will continue to strive, to succeed even despite another recent roadblock in the form of a neck injury that forced her to pull out of a December exhibition match in South Korea.
Pain, however, is nothing compared to Sharapova’s determination. “Coming back from an injury has made me understand how much I appreciate and love what I do,” she says firmly. “There’s no reason to put a time on it.”
RANKING: No. 2 in the world
LA HOME: Manhattan Beach, California
STYLE: “It’s a lot of layering. Long, flowing pieces by Isabel Marant [is my norm]. I love Alexander McQueen and Chloe, but my typical everday style is more casual.”
WORKOUT ROUTINE: About 3.5 hours of tennis, including 45 minute of warm-up or stretching and fitness on the court. I come home, have lunch and rest for 30-40 minutes before another short tennis session and then a long session at the gym. My whole afternoon is taken up at the gym; I spend about 2.5 to 3 hours there. Then I do treatments for my shoulder like a sports massage at home.”
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT: “Indonesia was beautiful. That’s my favorite right now.”
WATCH: “I love men’s watches by Tag Heuer or Carrera. I love big watches because I’m tall.”
FAVORITE RESTAURANTS: Simmzy’s, M.B. Post, Hamasaku
FAVORITE CHEF: Mario Batali