Tennis: Life in the slow lane delights Sharapova

1st June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 1, 2007 (AFP) - Taking time out is not something that comes naturally to the most famous sportswoman in the world.

PARIS, June 1, 2007 (AFP) - Taking time out is not something that comes naturally to the most famous sportswoman in the world.

So when Maria Sharapova was forced to sit out two months on the sidelines earlier this year to recover from a severe bout of tendonitis in the shoulder, it all seemed so strange.

"I was able to live a normal life alone by myself for a few weeks where I got to go to the grocery store and I had to cook my own breakfast and my lunch," the 20-year-old Russian explained after coasting into the third round of the French Open with a straight sets win over veteran American Jill Craybas.

"It was just so unusual for me because usually when I'm just a week or so at home my mom comes and I see her and she'll do all of that great stuff and she'll be the one going to the supermarket and buying toilet paper.

"I think I seriously ran out and I had to go to a friend's house next door to get some, which is a very unusual experience for me.

"I know I'm 20 years old, but in a way I am so mature because of what my career has brought me, but in other ways I've missed out on the normal things of life which I'm really not used to. And it was wonderful. I love it."

It all seems worlds apart from her earlier days when the nine-year-old Maria and her father Yuri left behind their home and her mother Yelena in Moscow to begin training at the famed Bollettieri tennis academy in Florida.

They were hard days according to those who knew the father and daughter partnership but such was her their dedication to the cause that just nine years later Sharapova was Wimbledon champion and destined for global stardom.

Her second Grand Slam title followed at the US Open in New York last September but she lost badly to Serena Williams in the Australian Open final in January just weeks before her enforced break.

The impression she gives is that now is a good time to pause and take a deep breath.

"It's incredible," she said. "I don't know if it was good for me or not, but I want more of that sometimes.

"I don't think you actually realize what your career has given you or brought you until you actually get to spend the time away and see it for yourself."

It was not all plain-sailing, however.

More used to thumping down big first serves or whacking thundering forehands past her opponents, Sharapova found the challenges of shopping for food and then cooking it an altogether more daunting prospect.

Recalling her recent ventures out to stock up at her local grocery store, she said: "The first time I was absolutely lost.

"Now I've got it under control. I know where the vegetables are, where my favourite cheese is. I've got it all going."

That's more than can be said for her cooking, she admits.

"It's completely awful. I always call my friends over to help me. I'm not very patient and I can't wait for things to boil and to fry and make sure it's not red and all of that.

"But I usually go to my friend's house and help them cook, which is just cutting up a vegetable."

Sharapova though has left the joys of home comforts behind her for now as she concentrates on winning her first French Open crown.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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