- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2011

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND (AP) - Maria Sharapova, a three-time Grand Slam champion, was not the player receiving the unconditional adulation from the fans at Wimbledon on Friday.

That distinction went to her British opponent, 17-year-old left-hander Laura Robson. However, Sharapova got the 7-6 (4), 6-3 win in the second round on Court 1.

“There will be many tournaments and many losses and many wins,” Sharapova said of Robson. “I think it will just be important to learn from the situations. And, yeah, obviously it’s great and it’s important to play in front of thousands of people with the support of the British crowd.”

The fifth-seeded Sharapova often reaps the benefits of the crowd. After all, she won the title at the All England Club in 2004, when she was only 17. But Robson, the 2008 junior champion at Wimbledon, is Britain’s new hope for a first singles champion since Virigina Wade won in 1977.

And in the first set, it looked like Robson may have the potential to end the drought. She led 4-1, and later led 4-2 in the tiebreaker, before losing the first set.

“I felt like I started off really slow and she started off really well,” said Sharapova, who was booed when she challenged a winner by Robson. “Quite the opposite of me, I think she was much more aggressive than I was in the beginning.”

Sharapova followed her Wimbledon championship with the U.S. Open title in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008. But shoulder surgery in August 2008 kept her off the tour for nearly a year and knocked her down the rankings before she moved back up to No. 6 this year.

Still only 24, Sharapova said it was her experience that helped her get through Friday’s match.

“I have to say I’m very fortunate that I got to get experience on the tour from a very young age by winning many matches,” said Sharapova, who will face Klara Zakopalova in the third round. “I had never expected to have success at such a young age.”

Sharapova offered some advice to Robson, who didn’t face the media after the match because she had to play doubles.

“She’s got to keep learning and keep playing and keep working hard,” Sharapova said. “That’s really what it comes down to, is just grinding it out. Like I said, grinding out the matches where you don’t necessarily have thousands of people behind you.”

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