New Delhi: She has an unenvious head-to-head record against Serena Williams but tennis` glam girl Maria Sharapova says rivalries not only light up the sport but also extract the best out of an athlete.
Of the 11 clashes she had with the American great, Maria lost a staggering nine matches, including twice at the Australian open and once at Wimbledon and most recently at the London Olympics finals.
"She is an incredible player and has achieved so much of success in her career. It is great to have rivalries in the sport. You are always working hard to do better than your competitor," said Sharapova.
The Russian is among one of the few athletes, who have repeated their success story after going into injury-forced hibernation.
The 25-year old made a great comeback this season as she went on to win the French Open to complete her career Slam and for the world No. 2, the win at the Roland Garros is one of most cherished ones.
"It is tough to differentiate. All my victories have come at a different time of my career," she said when asked which of the four Grand Slam victories she enjoyed the most.
"But the French Open this year will always remain close to my heart. I came into the tournament after a long injury lay-off. For the first time I realised how hard it was to get to the winning position and winning it," Sharapova added.
About her close encounters with Victoria Azarenka this season, the 25-year-old reiterated that it was important to have some tough competitions.
"As I told earlier, it is important to have rivalries in the sport. She is a tough opponent and I would look to do my best against her in the future," she said on the sidelines of a Steadfast promotional event.
When asked about her lone duel with Indian tennis ace, Sania Mirza way back in 2005, the six foot two inch tall said: "Long time... She was very competitive."