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Sunday September 21 2014
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Sharapova wins French Open

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Maria Sharapova beat surprise finalist Sara Errani of Italy 6-3, 6-2 to win her first French Open title and become the 10th woman with a career Grand Slam.

Whipping big serves with that rebuilt shoulder, putting forehands and backhands right on lines, and even moving well on the red surface she once worried made her look like a "cow on ice," Sharapova finally lifted the trophy at the only Grand Slam tournament she had yet to win.

"It's a wonderful moment in my career," the 25-year-old Sharapova told the crowd in French, before switching to English to add: "I'm really speechless. It's been such a journey for me to get to this stage."

So much came so easily for Sharapova at the start: Wimbledon champion at age 17; No. 1 in the rankings at 18; U.S. Open champion at 19; Australian Open champion at 20. But a shoulder operation in October 2008 made everything tougher. She didn't play singles from August 2008 until the following May, when her ranking fell to 126th.

"It wasn't getting better as soon as everyone thought it would," she said about her shoulder. "That was the frustrating thing, because it was like, 'When is this going to end?'"

It took until her 10th post-surgery Grand Slam tournament for Sharapova to get back to a major final, at Wimbledon last July, but she lost. She also reached the Australian Open final this January, but lost again.

A global celebrity with millions upon millions of dollars in endorsement deals, Sharapova put herself through the grind required to get back to the top of her sport — and to get better than ever on red clay.

She's unbeaten in 16 matches on it this season, including titles at Stuttgart and Rome.

"I could have said, 'I don't need this. I have money; I have fame; I have victories; I have Grand Slams.' But when your love for something is bigger than all those things, you continue to keep getting up in the morning when it's freezing outside, when you know that it can be the most difficult day, when nothing is working, when you feel like the belief sometimes isn't there from the outside world, and you seem so small," said Sharapova, who will return to No. 1 for the first time since June 2008 in Monday's WTA rankings. "But you can achieve great things when you don't listen to all those things."

I spent three days late last month visiting 18 high schools across the WPIAL. I drove 533 miles, took hundreds of photographs, shook hands with dozens of coaches, athletic directors and principals and climbed way too many stadium steps. I loved every minute of it, of course.
Editor's DeskFeature OneHigh School
On the heels of two straight wins, the Franklin Regional Panthers are looking to improve to 3-1 Friday night as welcome the Indiana Little Indians (2-1) to Panther Stadium.
Feature TwoHSCOGOS2014Press Room
Belle Vernon will battle Hollidaysburg in a WPIAL Triple-A clash Friday night with both teams looking for their third win on the season.
Feature ThreeHSUSS2014Press Room
The Steelers traditional powerhouse defense has set a yearly standard for fans and pundits for decades. But an aging Pittsburgh defense has had a rocky time the last couple of seasons.
Feature FourPure Steel
PSR VIDEO
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 1 Xfinity HS FootballHigh School TV Channel
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 2Pirates TV Channel
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 3USS HS GOTWHigh School TV Channel
Twenty-two WPIAL football teams will have new coaches pacing the sidelines this season, including a few that will be featured in the CoGo's Feature Matchup this season.
Custom 1HSCOGOS2014
Several of the most coveted recruits throughout the WPIAL have already made their college decisions, most notably Sterling Jenkins of Baldwin. Others, like Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead, are still being recruited.
Custom 2High SchoolKeystone Recruiting
Bill Cherpak misses the way it used to be. Back in the 80’s, when the current Thomas Jefferson High School coach was a player at Steel Valley, the recruiting process wasn’t publicized. It was low-key compared to the present.
Custom 3High School
The Mon-Valley has put plenty of athletes on Division 1 football teams over the years, including several who made it to the NFL. There are a few Mon-Valley natives playing D-1 ball this season.
Custom 4HSUSS2014