Sharapova is eager to see what lies away from the sport which has brought her fame and fortune, and admits she is unlikely to join the ranks of tennis senior citizens.
While many women – and men – play on until their bodies give up, and plenty continue beyond that stage in light-hearted invitational events, Sharapova, who has had to battle serious shoulder problems, cannot see herself in that company.
Asked if she would still be playing at 30, 24-year-old Sharapova said: “That might be pushing it.”
She explained: “Obviously a big part of my life is tennis. But at the end of the day I’m not going to be playing for my whole life. Tennis can only go to a certain point in your life.”
Sharapova and her NBA basketball star fiance Sasha Vujacic have yet to set a date for their wedding but Sharapova smiled: “If I did, I probably wouldn’t be telling you.”
Although the tall Russian with the American accent is focused on beating first-time finalist Petra Kvitova today at Wimbledon, before too long she will be looking for new challenges away from the tour.
“It’s great to have someone that will be sharing my life onwards. I want to explore life,” said Sharapova, pictured right.
Seven years on from her first final, when at the age of 17 she produced a stunning upset by beating Serena Williams, Sharapova is back in a Wimbledon title match. Considering the potential she had to dominate the women’s game, or at least keep pace with the Williams sisters, it might be considered surprising it has taken so long for Sharapova to reach another showpiece on the London grass.
Sharapova thinks not though. Fate, she suggests, has kept her waiting for this opportunity.
“You obviously hope that you can be in the final stages every single year, but I guess it’s just not meant to happen,” she said. “This is the year I’m supposed to be back in the final.”
Kvitova yesterday made the bold claim that she would treat the final as just another match. “I’m not nervous. I’m looking forward to (today),” said the 21-year-old Czech. “I will focus only on the match and not think about the title. It will be like a normal match, like second or third round here.
“Of course I have something to lose. I’m going on the court for the win. I’m staying positive.”
However, Kvitova accepts Sharapova has the advantage of knowing how to handle the tension of the occasion.
It will be the Russian’s fifth grand slam final, and she has three titles and just one defeat so far.
“She knows how she will be feeling,” Kvitova said. “It’s good for her that she has the experience from 2004. But still it will be a different match, a different opponent. It will be me, so we will see.”
Sharapova managed to beat Sabine Lisicki in her semi-final despite serving 13 double faults, and anything like that again in the final could prove costly.
Kvitova is a left-hander who has been compared to Czech-born Wimbledon great Martina Navratilova, and her serve, which can slide away from an opponent, is a particular threat on grass.