Roland Garros 2012 - Maria blasts into history books
There was only one moment here yesterday when doubt crossed Maria Sharapova's face during her quest to win the French Open title for the first time – and it came moments after completing her 6-3, 6-2 victory over Sara Errani.
"Would you please welcome the runner-up," the on-court announcer said at the presentation ceremony. "Maria Sharapova!"
For a nano-second the thought seemed to cross Sharapova's mind that her victory had been a cruel dream, but Errani, an ironic smile on her face, rose to receive her trophy.
The world No 24, who was the lowest ranked player to reach the final here since the rankings were launched 37 years ago, never looked capable of stopping Sharapova's quest to become the tenth woman in history to have won all four Grand Slam titles.
The Russian had too much power and too much experience of the big-match occasion for an opponent who had never gone previously gone beyond the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament and had won only one match in five previous visits to Roland Garros.
Four and a half years after winning her last Grand Slam title, Sharapova has completed her comeback in style, her first Roland Garros title complemented by her return to the No 1 position in tomorrow's updated world rankings list.
The 25-year-old, who has topped the list of the world's highest-earning sportswomen since 2004, hardly needs tennis given her blossoming interests in fashion and business, but has worked tirelessly after spending nine months out of the game following shoulder surgery four years ago.
Just as impressively, she has learned to master clay, a surface on which she once admitted made her feel like "a cow on ice". Sharapova described this victory as "surreal, the most unique moment I've experienced in my career".
She explained: "I never thought I would have that. When I won Wimbledon at 17, I thought that would be the most treasured moment of my career, but when I fell down on my knees today I realised that this was extremely special, and even more so.
"I proved that no matter how many punches I took in my career, I've always got back up. I never made excuses for me, not to myself, not to people. I always relied on my own talent, on the help of my team. At the end of the day, that's really what gets me through and gets me up. I have a tremendous amount of belief and pride in what I do. I love my work. I love playing tennis.
"I could have said: 'I don't need this. I have money. I have fame. I have victories. I have Grand Slams'. But when your love for something is bigger than all those things, you continue to keep getting up in the morning when it's freezing outside."
Now the Russian would love nothing more than to win her second Wimbledon title in four weekends' time.
Asked if winning here might give her inspiration at the All England Club, Sharapova said: "What do you think? I'm going to retire? This is going to give me so much motivation."
Errani, who will jump 14 places to No 10 tomorrow, has proved herself a great battler over the last fortnight, but the 5ft 4in Italian was all too often overpowered by the 6ft 2in Russian, who belted 37 winners to Errani's 12.
When Sharapova raced into a 4-0 lead there were fears that this might be as one-sided as some other recent women's Grand Slam finals, but Errani demonstrated her fighting spirit, even if it took double faults by the Russian in one game to launch her comeback. Errani recovered to 4-2 and saved two set points when serving at 2-5, but Sharapova was not to be denied, converting her third set point in the following game by cracking a backhand winner down the line.
The second set followed a similar pattern. Sharapova again took the initiative, breaking serve in the opening game, before Errani demonstrated some resilience. Sharapova broke serve for the fifth and final time to serve for the match at 5-2, though once more her opponent refused to lie down.
A superb forehand winner by Sharapova when at full stretch set up the first match point, which she failed to convert by hitting a forehand long.
An ace created a second, which Errani saved with an audacious drop shot. The crowd, who were warming to the contest, broke into a chant of "Sara! Sara!" Sharapova, however, moved to match point number three with another ace and this time Errani's attempted drop shot fell into the net.
Sharapova sank to her knees and held her head in her hands before looking around in apparent disbelief.
The Russian's post-match celebrations often seem choreographed, but on this occasion she could not stop jumping up and down in a show of pure joy. Her journey back to the top has been long and difficult, but this made it all worthwhile.
Maria Sharapova born April 19, 1987) is a Russian professional tennis player. As of February 25, 2013 she is ranked world no. 3.
Kirk Goldsberry highlights the biggest make-or-break players in Orlando.
Source: NFLPA seeking opt-out clauses, stipends
In its recent proposal to the league, the NFL Players Association requested opt-out clauses securing salaries for at-risk players or those with at-risk families and conditional stipends if camps shut down because of COVID-19 concerns, a source told ESPN.
Source: Yasiel Puig agrees to deal with Braves
Free-agent outfielder Yasiel Puig is signing with the Atlanta Braves, a source told ESPN, confirming a report by MLB.com.
Harden, not on Rockets' flight, arrives in Orlando
James Harden joined the Rockets in the NBA's bubble on Tuesday, five days after the team flew to Orlando, Florida.
Source: Browns, DE Garrett finalizing $125M deal
The Browns are on the verge of signing Myles Garrett to a five-year extension worth $125 million, a league source has confirmed to ESPN.
No fans at Eagles, Phillies games, per city officials
Philadelphia city officials say that no fans will be in the stands for Eagles and Phillies games in 2020, citing safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuberville wins Alabama GOP Senate runoff
Former college football coach Tommy Tuberville beat former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Tuesday's Alabama Republican Senate runoff. He will face incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones on the November ballot.
Golden Eagles, TBT's second-winningest team, claim first title
The Marquette alums avenged last season's title game loss by beating Sideline Cancer on Tuesday night.
After 87 years, Washington's NFL team changed in two months
Social justice reforms, sponsor intervention and Native American advocates pushed Washington owner Dan Snyder to make a monumental decision.
Secrets and abuse: Inside the Karolyi Ranch
For decades, women's national team gymnasts trained at the remote Texas ranch owned by Bela and Martha Karolyi, Romanian coaches who defected to the U.S. and changed the program forever. At what cost?
Mayer dominates Helen Joseph, wants title shot
The junior lightweight scored a one-sided victory in the headliner and said she's ready to fight for a world title.
Boxer Ryan Burrs enters the ring before his Top Rank fight versus Javier Martinez
14 players who could get long-term contracts this week
The deadline for teams to sign franchise-tagged players to extensions is Wednesday. Here are the players who could get new deals.
NFL veterans on the bubble for all 32 teams
Running back Jamaal Williams, quarterback Brian Hoyer and a host of other veterans could find themselves on the chopping block before the 2020 season begins.
The NFL's best and worst offensive arsenals: Barnwell's 32-1 ranking
Only receivers, backs and tight ends are allowed. We ranked all 32.
Viewers guide: Calvin Kattar looking for something to build upon on Fight Island
Calvin Kattar takes on surging featherweight Dan Ige in Wednesday's UFC Fight Night main event in Abu Dhabi.
Decision to rename Texas Longhorns' field a step in the right direction
With the renaming of its field after Ricky Williams and Earl Campbell, the University of Texas showed change is more than lip service.
College football season in the spring? Support for the concept is growing
The 2020 season is already certain to be played amid unprecedented circumstances.
Picking both 2020 MLB All-Star rosters -- even though there's no game
We made our selections based on what we expect in the shortened season.
Chelsea ratings: Giroud, Pulisic help Blues return to winning ways
Olivier Giroud scored his third goal in his past three EPL starts as Chelsea moved four points clear of Leicester.
What to expect from Tiger Woods' return to golf
It's been five months since he last played on the PGA Tour. For the first time post-shutdown, he's back.
Helwani's plan: Gilbert Burns vs. Leon Edwards for No. 1 contender
Breaking down the UFC's loaded 170-pound division, including why Edwards should be the next foe for Burns.
Madden NFL 21 ratings and rankings: Who's the No. 2 running back behind McCaffrey?
Here are the 10 running backs with the highest ratings, including Panthers star Christian McCaffrey.
Dwayne Haskins, social media react to Washington NFL team name change
Haskins says it's all about "the future" as the franchise will adopt a new team name and logo.
The NHLPA's Don Fehr on the Olympics, bubble life, coronavirus testing and more
We check in with the executive director on the return to play, negotiating a CBA during a global pandemic and much more.
Stanley Cup chances, biggest roster questions, bold predictions for all 24 teams
Get up to speed on all 24 postseason teams with our handy preview.
Brandon Hagel's extended wait to play NHL Game No. 2
The Blackhawks prospect debuted on the final day before the coronavirus pause. As training camp gets rolling ahead of the postseason, he has a unique perspective on the return.
Black MLB players past and present on what needs to change
Is the game of Jackie Robinson fulfilling its promise? As the conversation about race in America continues, some of baseball's most prominent Black stars share their experiences.
The exile of Bruce Maxwell and the birth of MLB's Black player movement
A new Players Alliance is mobilizing. And players are coming to terms with the lack of support for Maxwell.
In COVID-19 shutdown, these WTA players setting a course for the future
Thanks to the WTA's partnership with a pair of colleges, CiCi Bellis, Gaby Dabrowski and Daria Gavrilova are using their free time wisely, working online toward college degrees.
Cam: Replacing Brady is 'elephant in the room'
Quarterback Cam Newton has shared how motivated he is to prove doubters wrong through social media posts and addressed his unique spot of possibly replacing six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady with the Patriots.
OBJ: 'The blond is back' and new attitude, too
Odell Beckham's blond hair is back. The Cleveland Browns WR said a different attitude is coming with it.
NFL unveils Oakley Mouth Shield to combat virus
The Oakley Mouth Shield is expected to be distributed to all 32 teams over the next week.
Liverpool invite Akinfenwa to title parade after incredible postmatch interview
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp answered Adebayo Akinfenwa's call to congratulate the veteran striker on Wycombe's promotion to the Championship.
The 12 must-see games of the regular season
The schedule is set, and Ionescu's pro debut is one of the must-watch games when the season tips off July 25.
Brawn sure F1 will have positive COVID tests
Formula One must be ready for a positive COVID-19 test despite the opening two races of the 2020 season going by without a hitch, Ross Brawn says.
Fantasy baseball cheat sheets
Our experts have provided their rankings in a convenient, printable format for you to take to your drafts.
10 simple rules for fantasy football draft success
New to fantasy football? Played before but want to do better? Field Yates breaks down the basics to put you on top of your 2020 drafts.
Sleepers, busts, breakouts for 2020
Surprise performers, disappointments and those who will take their game to another level.
Call of Duty League announces championship date
The Call of Duty League's double-elimination championship tournament will begin on Aug. 19 and culminate on Aug. 29-30.
Ghost of Tsushima: Impressions and tips for the final PS4 exclusive
The final PlayStation 4 exclusive before Sony rolls out the PS5 this holiday season.