Ahead of the start of play at the 2013 French Open, Maria Sharapova is confident about her chances of retaining the title at Roland Garros.
Sharapova helped to make the men's draw for the French Open this week, and after finishing her obligations at the Roland Garros Museum appeared to be in a rush to get back to working on her game.
The Russian entered the press room for a brief chat with the press, and when asked if she felt 100 per cent after being forced to withdraw in Rome with an illness, she told reporters: "Yes, I do. Unfortunately I had to withdraw from Rome. I have been practicing for almost five or six days now, which has been nice.
"I haven't been back since my victory, so it's been nice to be able to practice on the courts when it's quiet and be back on centre court. It's been a nice experience so far."
Sharapova also explained what it feels like to return to Paris as the defending champion.
"I think there's always a bit of pressure in everything that you do," she said.
"Obviously it wouldn't be very fun without that type of feeling. It's very meaningful to come back as a defending champion. It means you have done something pretty good, and you're coming back into that position and you're trying to defend it. I think it's one of the best honours you can have as a tennis player. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity of defending my title."
In the earlier stages of her career Sharapova wasn't renowned as much of a clay court expert - she even famously poked fun at the quality of her movement on the dirt. Talking about how she managed to pick up her game on the red stuff, she revealed: "Well, I think it was not something that I woke up and just became, you know, good at or woke up one day and said 'I'm going to do good'.
"I always knew that I'd have to work extremely hard to get to where I am today."
"It never came easy for me to play on the clay, and that's why it took many years. But yet I felt like with every year I was getting closer; got to a couple of semifinals, and last year I just felt like everything came together in many different ways."