Posted: Sat June 9, 2012 11:54AM; Updated: Sat June 9, 2012 12:45PM
Jon Wertheim
Jon Wertheim>INSIDE TENNIS

Sharapova relentless in French Open final, completes career Slam

Story Highlights

Maria Sharapova blasted 37 winners to beat Sara Errani 6-3, 6-2 at French Open

Now back at No 1, Sharapova becomes the 10th woman to win all the Grand Slams

Don't expect Sharapova to wilt going forward after consistently good 2012 results

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Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova blitzed past Sara Errani to complete the career Grand Slam at the French Open.
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French Open 2012
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PARIS -- Maria Sharapova made history with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Sara Errani in the French Open women's final, becoming the just the 10th woman to complete the career Grand Slam. SI.com caught up with senior writer Jon Wertheim for his reaction from Paris.

SI.com: How did the French Open women's final play out, did Sharapova win it, or Errani lose it?

Jon Wertheim: Some of both. Clearly Errani was nervous, playing in her first Grand Slam final, entering as a severe underdog. But credit Sharapova for taking care of matters and turning in a businesslike performance. As we all expected, she took advantage of Errani's less-than-formidable serving, winning north of 55 percent of return points. She won the big points. Despite five double faults, her serve didn't let her down. It seemed like every time Errani had a small opening, Sharapova would spackle the crack. We knew going in that an awful lot had to go right for Errani (and wrong for Sharapova) for there to be any chance of upset. Credit Sharapova for seeing to it that this didn't happen.

SI.com: Did Errani show signs of nerves in her first major final? Will she be back?

Jon Wertheim: In these situations, we often say, "It will be interesting to see if [surprise finalist] can build on this and go forward." Errani deserves all sorts of credit for her play this spring and her run in Paris. She's a dogged, clever player done no favors by genetics -- her generously listed 5-foot-4 frame doesn't bless her with natural weapons. Realistically, it's hard to see her becoming a truly elite player. She just doesn't have the firepower. She could be back at the second week of Roland Garros if she continues to utilize crafty tactics and smart angles. But, realistically, I think she is one of those Arnaud Clement types who reached a major final and had a fine career, but just can't compete on a power basis.

SI.com: What was the scene on Court Philippe Chatrier? Have Parisians come around on Sharapova?

Jon Wertheim: The atmosphere was subdued. The French love an underdog and Errani -- a European, undersized, stylish, easy to like, willing to change tactics -- fit the bill. But Sharapova gave her so few chances. While there's certainly no animus or anything like that, the French haven't gone gaga for Sharapova, mostly, I suspect, because she's never won here before and, perhaps, because of a certain incident against Dinara Safina. But she doesn't have much of a history here beyond that. And since the two players had never before met, it wasn't as though this was a rivalry they could embrace. As a result, there was a lot of polite and respectful applause. But did the environment rival, say, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga-Novak Djokovic last week? Not so much.

SI.com: Sharapova joins an elite list of players with the career Grand Slam. How important is that for her? For history?

Jon Wertheim: Very important. Look at the list of players who HAVEN'T won the Career Slam: Davenport, Venus, Henin, Clijsters, Seles. The list goes on. This is a remarkable achievement, even if Sharapova has only won each once. It was especially relevant coming on clay. We've all heard the "cow on ice" line but, truly, this surface exposed Sharapova's shaky movement and the fact that she is not a natural athlete. That she overcame that and triumphed in Paris says a lot about her will.

SI.com: What does her win mean for the WTA going forward? Is Sharapova a No. 1 who's here to stay?

Jon Wertheim: The hope, of course, is that she does what so many before her haven't and really take the reins. Five Slams running the women's winner of Slam T has crashed and burned in Slam T+1. I don't think we'll see that with Sharapova. She's said all tournament how committed she is to tennis. Unlike so many, she genuinely enjoys the fight. And if I'm her, I'm saying to myself: "If I can win in Paris, why can't I replicate this on every other surface?" With Serena -- the one player who rattles Sharapova -- fading, and so many other players unable to match her competitive resolve, it's not hard to see Sharapova hanging onto to her lease on the rankings penthouse for many, many months.

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