French Open champion Maria Sharapova will become Russia’s first woman flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, Olympic Committee (ROC) chief Alexander Zhukov said yesterday. “We have reached an agreement that Sharapova will carry Russia’s flag at the Olympics opening,” Zhukov told the press. “I think it’s a logical choice. Last month she won the French Open to complete her career Grand Slam.”
Sharapova won the French Open title with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Italy’s Sara Errani to seal a rare career Grand Slam — winning the four biggest tournaments in the sport. “I was happy when I received an sms from our tennis federation chief Shamil Tarpishchev with an offer to carry my country’s flag,” Sharapova was quoted as saying. “I just couldn’t believe it’s true. And of course I was happy to accept the offer.” Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev both sent congratulatory telegrams to the Florida-based tennis star after her French Open success while the country’s tennis chiefs expressed their hope that she would now go for gold at the London Games. Sharapova, known affectionately by her short name “Masha”, is popular in Russia even though she lives in the United States and only rarely comes home. Sharapova has also her loyalty to her home nation clear, competing in the Fed Cup and almost always wearing a necklace with the cross of the Russian Orthodox Church
when she plays.