Sharapova keen to recapture glory days at Wimbledon

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Sharapova keen to recapture glory days at Wimbledon

Maria Sharapova of Russia serves to Anna Chakvetadze of Russia at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London on Tuesday. Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Former champion Maria Sharapova admits winning a second Wimbledon title would be the perfect way to erase the painful memories of her injury woes.

Sharapova has struggled with a host of ailments over the past two years that caused her ranking to slip and raised questions about her ability to continue to compete for the sport's top prizes.

But the 24-year-old has always possessed a ferocious competitive spirit and that desire to get back to her best has driven the Russian to successfully overcome her injury problems.

Sharapova, who first won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old in 2004, is back up to sixth in the world rankings after a fine run to the French Open semi-finals and the fifth seed kicked off her latest campaign at the All England Club with a 6-2, 6-1 demolition of compatriot Anna Chakvetadze.

Already one of the favorites for the title, Sharapova conceded it a dream come true to win her first Grand Slam crown since the 2008 Australian Open.

"Of course it's important. It would be a wonderful achievement. But I'm really happy to be playing something that I really love," Sharapova said.

"Obviously I'm very fortunate to have had that feeling of holding the trophy before and knowing how good that feeling is. That's what drives you deep down inside.

"But I also think on the other hand if you want something so bad that you can't sleep over it, where is that going to get you?

"I think time will tell and you just have to be patient and work as hard as you can and give it all you have, and then the rest will take care of itself."

Sharapova's match was moved to Centre Court late in the evening on Tuesday and she gave a command performance for the crowd, which has always retained a soft spot for the Russian since her teenage triumph seven years ago.

Although former world No 1 Sharapova was delighted to be back on Wimbledon's famous showcourt, she was more relieved to emerge unscathed from a potentially tricky first-round tie.

"It was great to be back on Centre Court, considering that I didn't play a warmup tournament," Sharapova said.

"I felt like I had to be ready from the first point. I played against an opponent that's been in the top 10 before.

"She hasn't had the best results this year. But you don't quite know what to expect. I was sure she'd come out in the match and have nothing to lose.

"I thought she played a really good match, and I really had to step it up. I thought I did a good job of that."

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