Helped by her newfound team and armed with her trademark grit and determination, Maria Sharapova returned from an injury plagued 2013 season to rise back to No. 2 in 2014.
Apart from simply returning to the professional circuit at full health after shoulder surgery – Sharapova’s only initial goal for the season – the Russian superstar was able to achieve far for during several memorable runs this year.
“I’m very happy, going into this year I didn’t really know what actually my personal expectations were,” she said. “I had one goal, and that was to try to remain as healthy as possible, to keep my shoulder strong. I’ve done an incredible job of that.
“I think it’s one of the few seasons where I haven’t withdrawn or retired from an event.”
Sharapova lifted titles in Stuttgart, Madrid, and Beijing, apart from her second French Open title, all of which boosted her to world No. 2 in the rankings.
She owes much of the success to her coach Sven Groeneveld, who coached Ana Ivanovic during her run to the Roland Garros title in 2009.
“I had a new team. I feel like there are a lot of new things in my career at that point, and I was still kind of trying to get myself back after an injury,” Sharapova said. “A lot of question marks at the beginning of the season, and I’m happy to be sitting here and saying that I’ve added another Grand Slam to my resume, that I’ve won great titles, I had a great clay court season, and a lot of good wins, a lot of tough matches that I pulled through that I could have easily lost.
“At this stage of my career I’ve gone through many coaches, a lot of different teams. I also kind of know what I want and what I feel works for me. [Sven] is a great listener, and yet when I need it he pushes me. But also a very calm, positive person. I think that’s also nice to have in a team.”