Sharapova savors banner year
By Will Swanton
BRISBANE (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova said 2012 had been the most memorable year of her career after her victory at the French Open and carrying Russia's flag at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.
"A lot of things came together," she said in Brisbane on Monday. "It was the grand slam that was going to take a little bit longer than the others for me.
"I knew that physically I needed a few extra years to get stronger to move more efficiently on that surface," she said of her win on the French clay.
"The Olympic experience was one that I'll never forget because it was my first time being an Olympian. I was the first Russian female athlete to carry the flag for my country, so it was very emotional. It was such an incredible experience."
Sharapova, competing in this week's Brisbane International tournament, said there was more depth in women's tennis than at any stage of her 12-year career.
"It's much more physical than it has been," she said.
"Maybe five years ago you go into a tournament and you would treat the first couple of rounds as, you know, not as a warm-up, but you don't have to go into the first round thinking, okay, this is where I really have to play my best tennis.
"Now it's certainly much different because you can be facing an opponent that's had good results, beaten top players, hasn't been consistent enough but is a really tough, tough player. Continued...