Returning from a hamstring injury that has sidelined her since Rome, Maria Sharapova says she is drawing inspiration from Venus Williams as she attempts to return to the top of the game.

The Russian has returned to the WTA tour this season from a 15-month anti-doping suspension, playing three events before getting injured. She reached the semifinals in Stuttgart, her first event back, then lost second-round matches in Madrid and Rome. She is playing World TeamTennis this week before her next scheduled WTA event at Stanford.

“It’s been a while since I’ve played,” she said at a press conference for World TeamTennis at Newport Beach, reports by Tennis Panorama. “I had to do rehab on the leg for a while. Just to have that confidence [with] movement and playing again is great.”

Sharapova said that while she was away from the game, “some things have changed and the No. 1 spot has shifted, a couple of players have been away,” but says she’s still familiar with most of the top-ranked players and doesn’t see a huge difference in the women’s tour.

But one change the 30-year-old likes is the increasing success of older players, citing Venus Williams as a specific inspiration. The 37-year-old American is ranked No. 9 and has reached two Grand Slam singles finals this season.

“Just take an example for Venus, just being able to do what she did at Wimbledon, or the level she’s able to perform at,” Sharapova said. “It [leads] others and myself to believe that you can have a long career if you do the right things. It is not just tennis anymore, there’s so many things people do to prolong their career. She’s definitely set the bar high.”

Sharapova is currently ranked No. 173 as she restarts her comeback.


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