I wanted to have a great Indian experience: Sharapova
She has an unenvious head-to-head record against Serena Williams but tennis' glam girl Maria Sharapova says rivalries not only light up the sport but also extract the best out of an athlete.
Of the 11 clashes she had with the American great, Maria lost a staggering nine matches, including twice at the Australian open and once at Wimbledon and most recently at the London Olympics finals.
"She is an incredible player and has achieved so much of success in her career. It is great to have rivalries in the sport. You are always working hard to do better than your competitor," said Sharapova.
The Russian is among one of the few athletes, who have repeated their success story after going into injury-forced hibernation.
Image: Maria Sharapova speaks at a news conference in New Delhi
Photographs: Vijay Mathur/Reuters
'2012 French Open will always remain close to my heart'
The 25-year old made a great comeback this season as she went on to win the French Open to complete her career Slam and for the World No. 2, the win at the Roland Garros is one of most cherished ones.
"It is tough to differentiate. All my victories have come at a different time of my career," she said when asked which of the four Grand Slam victories she enjoyed the most.
"But the French Open this year will always remain close to my heart. I came into the tournament after a long injury lay-off. For the first time I realised how hard it was to get to the winning position and winning it," Sharapova added.
About her close encounters with Victoria Azarenka this season, the 25-year-old reiterated that it was important to have some tough competitions.
"As I told earlier, it is important to have rivalries in the sport. She is a tough opponent and I would look to do my best against her in the future," she said on the sidelines of a Steadfast promotional event.
Image: French Open women's champion Maria Sharapova
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
'She (Sania) was very competitive'
When asked about her lone duel with Indian tennis ace, Sania Mirza way back in 2005, the six foot two inch tall said: "Long time... She was very competitive."
About Sania's decision to compete only in the doubles, Sharapova said that one has to understand that tennis is a very physical sport and it needs a lot of hardwork to sustain at both the formats.
"You have to understand that it is not easy to play in both the formats of the game. It is very challenging and sometimes you have to make the choice," said Sharapova, who is on her maiden trip to India.
Sharapova, meanwhile, said that it was not an overnight process to reach the top and it takes hard yards to make what you are.
"It is not an overnight process. Share talent, coaches or money can't get you the success. The sport has become very physical, even the first round of the competitions is getting very tough. You don't see young teenagers winning the big championships," she said.
Image: Sania Mirza
Photographs: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
'I had a dosa which tasted really nice'
On her first encounter with India, Sharapova said: "It feels amazing that I am here. It has taken me so long to get to India. I have so much of fans in this country and it feels great to get such a warm welcome. I wish at some point of time they can watch me live," she said.
Asked about her tryst with the Indian cuisine and what memories she would take home from here, the versatile athlete said: "I arrived here last night. In the morning I asked the chef on what should I try of the Indian food. I had a dosa which tasted really nice. I wanted to have this great Indian experience. There is so much energy in the city, I have been in some quite areas recently and I really liked the culture and the people here."
Asked whether she will be visiting the Taj Mahal, the Russian said it won't be possible this time around. However, she said that she would like to explore the city markets and take some souvenirs for her friends back home.
Image: Maria Sharapova
Photographs: Vijay Mathur/Reuters