Russia’s Maria Sharapova completed her career Grand Slam with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Italy's Sara Errani to win the 2012 French Open Championship. In addition to her 2012 Roland Garros victory, Sharapova won at Wimbledon in 2004, the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008. She joins an elite group who has accomplished the feat, including Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Serena Williams, Maureen Connolly, Shirley Fry and Billie Jean King.
"It's the most incredible feeling. I don't know what to say," said Sharapova after clinching her career Grand Slam clinching win on the clay courts of Roland Garros. "I'm so happy. I've worked so hard for this. It took a lot to get to this stage and even more to win it. There are so many tough days where you feel like giving up, but you don't. It's been such a journey to get to this stage again."
Sharapova's showing at Roland Garros vaulted her back into the top spot of the WTA Women's Singles Rankings from number two, moving ahead of former world number one-ranked Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
A U.S. resident since 1994, Sharapova has now won 27 WTA singles titles, including the four Grand Slam singles titles. She was also year-end winner of the WTA Tour Championships in 2004. Sharapova has been ranked number one atop the WTA Women’s Singles Rankings on five separate occasions. She became world number one for the first time seven years ago on Aug. 22, 2005, and regained the ranking for the fifth time on June 11, 2012 with her finals appearance at Roland Garros.
Sharapova made her professional breakthrough in 2004 at the age of 17, when she defeated two-time defending champion and top-seeded Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon finals for her first Grand Slam singles title, entering the top 10 in the WTA Rankings with the win. She subsequently won major titles at the 2006 U.S. Open and 2008 Australian Open, before being forced out of the game for 10 months by a recurring shoulder injury, which required surgery in October of 2008.
Sharapova came back to the game in May 2009, and returned to the top 10 in March 2011.
This summer, in addition to playing in Wimbledon 2012 and in the U.S. Open, Sharapova was asked by the Russian Olympic Committee to carry the Russian flag at this year’s London Olympic Games. She will be the first-ever woman to carry the Russian flag at the Olympics.
“I am so honored, and especially excited, as it will be my first Olympics in my career,” said Sharapova on her Facebook page. “I have had to keep this hush-hush for two weeks and keeping secrets is not my best quality!”
Maria Sharapova’s path to her career Grand Slam
Wimbledon ♦ 2004
Seeded 13th and at the age of 17, Maria Sharapova reached her first Grand Slam semifinal by defeating Ai Sugiyama at Wimbledon in 2004. There, she defeated fifth seed and former champion, American Lindsay Davenport. In the finals, Sharapova upset the top seed and defending champion, American Serena Williams, to win her first Grand Slam singles title, and become the third youngest woman to win the Wimbledon title, behind only Lottie Dod and Martina Hingis. Sharapova also became the second Russian woman (after Anastasia Myskina had won the year's previous major at Roland Garros) to win a Grand Slam singles title. The victory was hailed by the media as "the most stunning upset in memory,” with other writers commenting on her arrival as a serious challenger to the Williams' dominance at Wimbledon. She entered the top 10 in the rankings for the first time as a result of the win.
U.S. Open ♦ 2006
As the third seed at the 2006 U.S. Open, Sharapova defeated top-seed Amélie Mauresmo from France for the first time in the semifinals, and then followed up by beating second-seeded Justine Henin from Belgium in order to win her second Grand Slam singles title. Sharapova finished 2006 ranked number two in the world, her best year-end finish to date.
Australian Open ♦ 2008
Sharapova was seeded fifth at the 2008 Australian Open, but was not considered a favorite. Nevertheless, she defeated former world number one Lindsay Davenport in the second round, and then world number one Justine Henin in the quarterfinals, ending the latter's 32-match winning streak. She proceeded to the finals by defeating Jelena Jankovic in the semis, where she defeated Ana Ivanovic to win her third Grand Slam title, having not dropped a set all tournament.
French Open ♦ 2012
Sharapova was seeded second at the 2012 French Open where she defeated Sara Errani in the Roland Garros finals. By reaching the final, she regained the top spot in the WTA Rankings. Coincidentally, the last time Sharapova was number one was right before the 2008 French Open, due to the sudden retirement of then number one Justine Henin, a four-time Roland Garros champion.