Column: Sharapova alone can’t save women’s tennis

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And Sharapova reached the finals at Wimbledon in 2011 and the Australian Open this year, too, so there was nothing accidental about her appearance here.

And what grit. As Sharapova herself noted, she could have thrown in the towel in 2008 when a doctor diagnosed the torn rotator cuff tendon that had been giving her pain and trouble in her shoulder for months.

Instead, she studiously ignored _ and has now proven wrong _ all those who said that the surgically repaired shoulder would never allow the former No. 1 to be this potent again.

“I could have said, `I don’t need this. I have money; I have fame; I have victories; I have Grand Slams,’” she said after pocketing another $1.6 million for Saturday’s win.

“But when your love for something is bigger than all those things, you continue to keep getting up in the morning when it’s freezing outside, when you know that it can be the most difficult day, when nothing is working, when you feel like the belief sometimes isn’t there from the outside world, and you seem so small.”

Determined, rich and bankable, Sharapova is a fine ambassador for women’s tennis.

But her peers need to step up a gear, too. Because Sharapova can’t sustain interest alone.

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John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/johnleicester

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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