Will be on the tour for a long time: Sharapova

Johannesburg: Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has insisted that she has many years ahead of her on court if she remains fit and healthy.

After suffering a number of early exits, Sharapova recently won her first title since making her return to tennis in April following a 15-month doping ban.

The Russian tennis star defeated Belarusian teenager Aryna Sabalenka 7-5, 7-6 (8) on Sunday to win the women’s singles title in Tianjin.

The victory boosted her world ranking to 57 and she still has every chance at qualifying for the Australian Open in January – where former world number one Williams also plans on making her return after she gave birth last month.

“If strength and health are there, I will still be on the tour for a long time,” Sport24 quoted Sharapova said on court after her first round exit at WTA Moscow this week.

“You can see my love for the sport. I am trying to improve and win. Me and Serena have many years ahead of us,” she added.

The five-time Grand Slam champion admitted that she had to struggle to get full-match fitness after 15 months on the sidelines.

“I had a difficult period due to the ban,” she said.

“And then physically, it’s always difficult to get used to the routine of matches and practice sessions again if you didn’t do it for a long time,” she added. (ANI)