Paris: One victory on Thursday finished Maria Sharapova's climb back to the top of the tennis rankings. With one more on Saturday, she'll be the French Open champion and complete a career Grand Slam.
Sharapova defeated Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-3 in the windblown semi-finals at Roland Garros. She needs a victory over 21st-seeded Sara Errani, a 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 winner over sixth-seeded Samantha Stosur, to become the 10th woman to win all four major tournaments.
"I always dreamed of being on the final stage here and finally have that opportunity," Sharapova said. "And I'm more than excited."
When she won match point on a second-serve ace, Sharapova raised her palms to the sky, looked up and smiled — letting the fans and photographers share a special moment with one of the sport's biggest stars.
She has long been the headliner at almost any tournament she enters, though this latest win will officially put her on the top line of the women's rankings when they come out next Monday. It's a perch that may have felt unreachable three years ago, when the Russian was recovering from shoulder surgery and dropped as low as 126th.
But from that point, she has made a steady climb back. This year, she has won two tournaments and finished runner-up in three more, including the Australian Open. That, plus the performance at Roland Garros, has helped push her back to No. 1, the spot she first captured in 2005 and held for 17 non-consecutive weeks, the last on June 8, 2008.
"It's pretty special," Sharapova said. "A few years ago after my shoulder surgery, I don't know if I had a ranking, but it was over 100. And I thought 'Well, I did it one time. So maybe again, I can try to do it.'"