MARIA. You’ve gotta see her. Ms Sharapova lost a three set semi final thriller today but fought like a tigress against No 1 seed Amelie Mauresmo.
The 2004 champion shattered the shriek-o-meter on Centre Court and had the crowd on their feet as she battled to stay in the match.
But with France already in the World Cup Final on Sunday, Mauresmo overcame her nerves to set up a potential national sporting double this weekend.
She even celebrated like a footballer, leaping up and punching the air after one wonder shot, and again when she clinched victory at the end of two hours and 13 minutes.
Maria, who we must remind ourselves is still only 19, tried everything. She even pushed the mute button on her screaming for two shots at the end of one rally. Amelie was so stunned, she lost the point.
Too many errors proved the Russian’s downfall. The little girl sat near me looked heartbroken as her hero failed to save a second match point. But disappointed Maria will be back. Next is some retail therapy. “I’m going to head off to Top Shop tomorrow. I look forward to that every single year.”
Amazingly, there was no invasion of Centre Court this afternoon. The All England Club posted extra security attendants around the court, with others keeping a close eye on spectators.
Some would say they also discouraged any incursion by putting two Belgians on first. But that would be unkind. As the tournament reached its business end, eventual semi final winner Justine Henin-Hardenne and her opponent Kim Clijsters also did their bit to boost the image of women’s tennis.
At the start of their clash, there were hundreds of empty seats. By the conclusion the place was packed. This was another real contest with fans willing Clijsters on after she lost the first set. Kim even found time to smile, which is a rare sight in these parts.
Henin-Hardenne took the second set tie-break to win the battle of the Belgians. At 5’ 6” she’s not much bigger than her tennis bag. But, like Sharapova, she’s a fighter. Saturday’s final should be worth watching.