Maria Sharapova believes that there's no player currently on the WTA tour who can be considered her heir.
Sharapova is one of the biggest names on the WTA tour in recent history. She is a five-time Grand Slam champion - Wimbledon 2004, US Open 2006, Australian Open 2008, and French Open 2012 and 2014. She’s one of only six women in the Open era to have won a Career Slam.
The Russian's 2004 Wimbledon Championships triumph came at the tender age of 17, making her the fourth-youngest Major winner in the Open era. Then, at the age of 18 years and 125 days, she became the WTA World No. 1, the fifth-youngest woman to achieve the feat.
Sharapova has a total of 36 titles to her name, with Venus Williams (49) the only active player to have won more. For 13 consecutive years, from 2003 to 2015, she won at least one title, the fourth-longest streak in WTA history.
Since her retirement in 2020, several players have been compared with Sharapova, some with good reason and others being wishful thinking by tennis hopefuls.
Sharapova herself doesn't see any player on the tour right now who is worthy of being called her heir. But she was quick to acknowledge that many are excellent players in their own rights.
“At the moment I don't see my heir on the horizon. There are excellent players with different styles. The formula for success is not easy to achieve, you need a perfect balance between the game, commitments with sponsors and free time,” she told Gazzetta dello Sport (via ubitennis).
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova believes Maria Sharapova will never be replaced or copied
While Maria Sharapova doesn't see her successor on the tour right now, her compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova believes there will never be one.
Pavlyuchenkova was recently in action at the 2023 French Open, where she made a quarterfinal exit following defeat to eventual finalist Karolina Muchova.
At a press conference in Paris, Pavlyuchenkova hailed Sharapova and expressed admiration for the former World No. 1's fighting spirit and character.
“Maria Sharapova, she's Maria Sharapova. For me it's just like in tennis or every sport, there are some special athletes who you have, and they will never be replaced or copied or, you know. So she's one of them for me for sure. I think for me I always admired. I was impressed by her fighting spirit and character,” she said.