Rebecca Tyrrel: 'Sharapova is more like Pippi Longstocking than her other hero, Sherlock Holmes'

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The Independent Online

Who knew that Maria Sharapova is a fan of Sherlock Holmes? And not of the Robert Downey Jr films or the Benedict Cumberbatch TV series either, but of the actual written books, which she enjoys reading in hotel rooms during tournaments.

Holmes would know of course, without needing to read it here. "I deduce, Watson," he would say, "from the indentation on Miss Sharapova's serving thumb, that the world number one lady tennis player has been absorbed by the Penguin omnibus edition of your fanciful accounts of our adventures. No other volume yet published could have left such an unmistakable memento of itself upon the human hand."

Although Holmes is almost as popular in Russia as the Siberian-born Sharapova (there is a statue of the detective and Watson outside the British Embassy in Moscow), she will not have read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sobaka Baskerviley (The Hound of the Baskervilles) in the Cyrillic. Miss Sharapova moved to the US at seven to pursue her tennis career, and just 10 years later shocked Serena Williams in the final to win her first and only Wimbledon. She's been the world's highest-earning woman sports star ever since.

Would Holmes have been a reciprocal fan of Sharapova? That is unlikely – the only female he ever had any time for was Irene Adler ("the woman") and, being a singer, Adler did not grunt like a constipated Airbus.

Maria, however is quite a crime-solver herself. Although her cracking of The Not Especially Curious Case of the Starbucks Mobile Phone Gang was more in the style of her other literary hero, Pippi Longstocking, than the violin-playing, cocaine-injecting resident of 221B Baker Street. "I was sitting there enjoying my latte, when I saw three 10-year-old kids come into the store with a newspaper in their hand," she recounted of an incident in Madrid seven years ago. "One of the kids comes up to me, puts the newspaper on top of my phone, grabs it with his other hand, and starts sprinting out of the store. Let me tell you I have never run so fast in my life. I caught the kid, and got my phone back. I am no professional, but they do call me Sherlock Holmes."

Perhaps. What we do know is that after completing her career grand slam at the French Open a fortnight ago, her second Wimbledon title should be elementary.

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