No. 1 with a title? Sharapova makes French final

But Sharapova, who held the No. 1 ranking for 17 weeks between 2005 and 2008, is well beyond taking anything for granted.

“I’ve played tennis since I was 4 years old,” she said. “I committed myself to this sport. I’ve always loved what I did. When it was taken away from me for a while, that’s when I realized how grateful I was and how lucky I was to be playing it.”

Her match against Kvitova, who beat Sharapova in last year’s Wimbledon final, didn’t feature all that much drama. Kvitova struggled with the blustery wind more than her opponent did. And she couldn’t get a handle on Sharapova’s serve. The Russian placed 78 percent of her first serves in.

Trailing 4-3 and 40-30 in the second set, Kvitova hit an aggressive return that the chair umpire ruled missed the baseline. A short argument ensued and after the changeover, Kvitova kept glancing at the spot where she thought the ball hit. She went from 30-love in that game to losing the last four points, and Sharapova’s last service game was academic _ and punctuated with an ace on her second serve.

When it was over, she lifted her palms into the air and looked skyward, celebrating everything that had just happened to her: The No. 1 ranking, her first final at Roland Garros, a chance to become only the 10th woman to win all four major tournaments.

Clay has never been Sharapova’s specialty, but as part of her comeback, she reinvented that part of her game and became a more patient, steady player. She is 17-1 on the surface this year.

“In a Roland Garros final for the first time, when I know many years ago, I’m sure, many people … never considered me getting to this stage,” she said. “I’ve always believed and I have worked towards it, but I didn’t quite know if I was really ever physically quite ready for that.”

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