Maria Sharapova became the first Russian woman to reach world number one on Monday when she officially replaced injured American Lindsay Davenport at the top of the WTA rankings.
Despite relinquishing her Wimbledon title earlier this year, the 18-year-old Siberian has still won three tournaments so far this season and amassed enough points to topple Davenport and fulfil her life-long dream.
Sharapova has not allowed the ranking race to distract her from her tennis job at hand. And with recent problems including lower back pain and a strained pectoral muscle, she has got enough on her plate in just getting fit to play well at the major, News24 says.
"What helps me to become No 1 is the hard work I put in on the practice courts," she explained at Wimbledon in June.
"The level of competition's very high, and that's great because that's what the sport is all about. That's why I play, because I love the competition," she said, adding "I love going out there and challenging myself trying to compete and do the best I can." Sharapova, who regularly plays smaller tournaments in Asia, Europe and Australia, has been noticeably absent from the $1.3 million Kremlin Cup for the last few years.
Last month, Moscow organisers announced that Sharapova would play in her native country for the first time, giving Russian fans the chance to finally witness their biggest star in person.
At age 29, Davenport has extended her remarkable career well beyond the point that she imagined she would have been playing.
The Californian finished last season on the top spot for the third year during her career after 2001 and 1998.
Davenport took over the number 1 ranking last October 18 after reaching the Kremlin Cup semi-finals in Moscow, the sixth time she had taken over the top spot at any point in her career.
Sharapova becomes the 15th player to hold the number 1 ranking.
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