Sharapova: Winning Grand Slams more important than being No. 1
Given a choice, Maria Sharapova would gladly pass on a first-ever season-ending world No. 1 position, if it means she could amass more Grand Slams in her illustrious career.
There was a time when pundits wondered if a recurring shoulder injury, first in 2008 and then last year, would spell the end of the ruthless Russian who dominated the tennis courts with her powerful serves and strokes.
But the 27-year-old bounced back on each occasion to win a Grand Slam - the French Open in 2012 and this year - and Sharapova thinks these achievements are more significant than finishing the season on top of the rankings.
At the Porsche Charity Event where she helped raise $50,000 for the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund yesterday, the world No. 2 said: "The two French Open victories mean a lot more to me.
"I've always been quite competitive... (so) it's very mentally challenging when you're trying to recover from an injury and get yourself healthy when everyone else is competing and getting better.
"You're spending so much time on the recovery process and it's a day-in and day-out job and. Mentally, it's quite exhausting.
"There are always concerns when you are injured because you are trying to find solutions - a quicker way to get better. But I don't think there were any doubts as to whether I'll be back playing at my best.
"In the middle of this year, I was quite close to coming out of the top 10 because I missed a big portion of last year, so to be in a position of No. 2 in the world, I'm quite happy about it.
"If I were in a position where I hadn't been No. 1 before in my career, maybe I would be thinking about it a little bit more.
"It's not such a big deal for me. Maybe it is for others, but I've never looked at it that way. I've always considered Grand Slam success (more special)... because rankings have a lot to do with other people's results as well and these things are not always in your control.
"Those Grand Slam wins are in your control, so those always count more and are more special in my career."
Not that Sharapova will be taking things easy at the WTA Finals Singapore, where the singles events commence on Monday.
She could meet current world No. 1 Serena Williams in the semi-finals and would be keen to snap a 15-match losing streak against the 33-year-old American, who arrived in Singapore yesterday despite injuring her left knee in China earlier this month.
When asked if she sensed any vulnerability in Williams, Sharapova replied: "No, not really. Everyone wants to be healthy for an event like this as it is a very important tournament."
I love to drive fast cars. It’s nice to be a woman and be able to sit in a low car and drive with the fast boys and feel pretty cool about it. I love speed and I love the adrenalin rush. I love the feeling of pushing the gas, when you can obviously.
— Maria Sharapova, who owns a Porsche Panamera and a Porsche 911 Carrera, on her need for speed
The first few days at home I feel very special because I get to be in my own environment, I get to make my own food, making your own coffee just the way you want it.
— Maria Sharapova, on her days off