Rome - Former world No 1 Maria Sharapova says she is not
looking too far ahead after returning from a doping suspension but concedes she
is eager to be competing for the biggest titles in tennis again.
The 30-year-old beat Christina McHale 6-4 6-2 in the first
round of the Italian Open on Monday to guarantee herself a spot in the
Wimbledon qualifying tournament.
She faces a battle to raise her ranking enough to qualify
for the grass-court grand slam by right and spare organisers the dilemma of
whether to award her a wildcard into the main draw of the tournament she won in
The Russian is returning from a 15-month doping ban after
testing positive for the heart drug meldonium at last year's Australian Open.
Since her return in April, Sharapova has received wildcard
entries to the Stuttgart, Madrid and Italian Opens.
"I certainly have expectations of myself... when you
have won big events and you have been No 1 in the world, you know that feeling.
So that feeling ultimately stays inside of you... and you know what you work
for," Sharapova told reporters.
"I would love to experience those feelings again. Of
course, that is my goal. But as I said, every week is important... I might have
not played my best tennis, but I set up an opportunity to play another match
and to hopefully improve in that match, and that's what I need."
Sharapova also said that she was unaware of this week's
rankings deadline for the Wimbledon qualifying draw.
"Oh, is it? See, I think maybe you guys assume that I
know these things, but I genuinely want to take care of each and every single
week, and every single match is a priority for me," Sharapova said.
"When you've been out of the game and haven't played
competitively in 15 months... The fact that I'm back and playing three weeks in
a row now and three events in a row for me is a big deal. That's my
The five-time grand slam winner will find out if she
receives a wildcard entry into this month's French Open later on Tuesday.