Maria Sharapova has always been a shining example of how to juggle on-court success with off-court marketability, and now she is passing on her knowledge to the next generation.
WTA Staff

MIAMI, FL, USA - As a Wimbledon champion at 17, Maria Sharapova knows a thing or two about teen superstardom.

Nearly 10 years on from that triumph, Sharapova is one of the WTA's elder stateswomen - in experience if not age - and is now in the position to dole out a few pearls of wisdom to those looking to follow in her footsteps.

However, the Russian is savvy enough to acknowledge that times have changed since she announced herself to the tennis world in a blaze of glory at the All-England Club.

Social media, in particular, is one area that has altered the landscape, placing each new arrival on the scene under greater scrutiny than ever before.

"You're always around opinions," Sharapova said. "No matter who you are, how great you are, there are always going to be those that don't have nice things to say. And probably as a younger player, someone that's just coming up, that's always challenging to take in the beginning of your career.

"Now when you see that shift of teenagers doing extremely well, pushing at Grand Slams at an earlier age, the hype I think is a lot bigger than maybe many years ago because you don't see that so often. And that adds another level of pressure. All of a sudden you're photographed by Vogue or you're talked about. It can become difficult."

It was a juggling act that Sharapova handled with remarkable dexterity in her youth, and, judging by the success of her Sugarpova brand and endless stream of endorsements, she is showing no sign of losing her touch.

All the while, though, the 26-year-old has never lost sight of her main goal: success on the court.

"I think as players we want to be known for our strength on the court, because at the beginning of our careers that's what we started off as," Sharapova added. "We started off hitting against walls or in tough circumstances and tough situations where we had to grind out and become top professional players.

"We didn't start in a promotional advertisement modeling world. That was never our job. There are a lot of people that can take care of those things. Our focus has always been the game and the opportunities that we are able to create with the game that we produce and the results that we produce."

This focus has brought Sharapova four majors and 25 other titles and, despite her recent fitness struggles, there are no signs that the competitive fire is starting to dim.

"I've accomplished a lot, and why wouldn't I continue? Why wouldn't I want to get better and improve? It's something that I've done for a very long time and something that I feel there's still so many opportunities for me and things to achieve.

"Motivation wise, that's never really an issue. It's more about, you know, obviously the shoulder has been a big part of my career and something that I've had to get through. But finding that motivation despite all that is, you know, not easy, but you certainly have to work at it at times. I'm very privileged to do what I do, and I love it."