Maria sets sights on Wimbledon
Paris - Maria Sharapova said she is not too disappointed by her loss to Li Na in the French Open semi-finals and will now turn her focus fully on Wimbledon.
It was at the grass courts of southwest London where the Russian exploded onto the international scene when she swept aside Serena Williams in straight sets to win her first Grand Slam title in 2004 as a precocious 17-year-old.
"I enjoy going to out to the grass from clay," the Russian said.
"The whole summer swing of things, the warmup tournament and Wimbledon and then the summer swing in the U.S..
"It's probably my favourite part of the season. I feel like I have a lot to look forward to."
In Sharapova's favour is the current weakened state of the women's game with Justine Henin retired, the Williams sisters and Kim Clijsters nearing the end of their careers and with the younger generation, led by Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic still to fully assert themselves.
Although she seems to have been around for a long time, she is still only 24 and, injury permitting will have another four or five years at the top level,
Sharapova believes she could get better.
"I have always said it's a long journey, and there's going to be tough moments," she said.
"There's going to be good ones ahead, and there's going to be plenty of good ones that I'm going to cherish. I really have no doubt in that. That's why I go out and I keep working.
"As disappointing as it is to lose, I believe in my game a lot. I know I can improve and get better with every year. I feel like especially on clay I'm getting better."
A title win for Sharapova in Paris would have made her just the 10th woman in the history of the sport to have won all four Grand Slam titles, as she followed up Wimbledon 2004 by winning the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008.
But that she insists is not her priority.
"Obviously it's great that I have an opportunity to win all four. It didn't happen this year, but it's not for me that important," she said.