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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 July, 2004, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Wimbledon bewitched by Sharapova
By Dan Warren

In many ways, Maria Sharapova is as typical an example of a 17-year-old female as you will find.

Sharapova celebrates her extraordinary win
Sharapova's win will transform her into a worldwide star
After all, she spent Saturday afternoon fiddling with her mobile phone and giggling about boys.

The only difference was that she did this in front of a worldwide audience of millions having just won Wimbledon.

In the aftermath of her shock triumph over Serena Williams, Sharapova showed just why she is set to be one of the biggest assets the women's game has ever seen.

During the game she displayed power and steely resolve which belied her tender years.

Yet her almost frightening focus gave way at the moment of triumph as she sank to her knees, hands over her face after a shot from defending champion Williams hit the net.

This was followed by the now-obligatory run into the crowd where she - eventually - found and embraced father Yuri.

Then there was the now-obligatory moment for the television archives, as she took her father's mobile phone and attempted to make a call to mother Yelena - only to be scuppered by the lack of reception.

But while we might have expected the emotion and drama of the occasion to get to the teen, Sharapova retained a level of composure which no-one really had the right to expect.

Maria Sharapova embraces her father Yuri after her Wimbledon win
Sharapova raced into the crowd to embrace father Yuri after her win
Sure, there were nervous giggles and a little wavering in the voice as she thanked everyone who had helped go so far so quickly.

There was an apologetic tone as she nervously addressed her opponent, joking: "Serena, I'm sorry to have to take this from you for one year!"

Perhaps at that point she realised the magnitude of what she had achieved in beating a player destined to become an all-time great of women's tennis.

But she was soon back to her natural ebullient self, saying she would like to "cut up" the trophy and "give a piece to everyone in the crowd".

Of course, her rise to superstardom will not be hindered by the model good looks which will also raise the profile of the women's game.

And intriguingly, her roll-call of post-match thanks included "one person I'd like to thank - but I'm not going to give the name of - for inspiring me to win this tournament".

The tabloids will have a field day, naturally, as they try and guess the identity of the mystery "inspiration".

And such talk will ensure that Sharapova's 2004 Wimbledon triumph will keep the women's game in the newspapers - both on the back and front pages - for some time.




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