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Schelckunchick
05-07-2004, 03:03
Sharapova pushes big stories aside in Russia



MOSCOW (AP) -- Maria Sharapova not only beat Serena Williams to win the Wimbledon title, she pushed aside some of Russia's top political and business news. She even got a phone call from President Vladimir Putin.

Her swift and efficient victory Saturday received extensive attention on Russian television news shows. Some broadcasts put the match ahead of a law-enforcement raid at the Yukos oil company -- whose troubles have been one of Russia's most prominent ongoing stories -- and the big dispute for control of the Communist Party.

Putin telephoned Sharapova to congratulate her and ``wish her further successes in her sports career,'' the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.


State-controlled Channel 1 television gave Sharapova top billing on its main 9 p.m. newscast, noting that although she has lived in the United States for the past decade, ``she thinks in Russian.''

``Maria has ended the hegemony of the Williams sisters,'' the newspaper Sport-Ekspress said on its Web site.

``It's the second great victory for the homeland's tennis in less than a month,'' the report added, referring to Anastasia Myskina's win at the French Open in June over fellow Russian Elena Dementieva.

While the quality of play at the French Open final underwhelmed many, Sharapova displayed exceptional technique and assurance in her 6-1, 6-4 victory.

``All in all, Masha Sharapova gave up just five games to the menacing Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final!,'' said Sovietsky Sport, the country's other major sports newspaper, on its Web site, which also has included her photos in a ``Hot Five'' sidebar of beautiful female athletes.