After a stellar season that took her to third place in the world rankings, 18-year-old Russian-born tennis player Maria Sharapova is advancing her game. As she gears up for the French Open in Paris next month and prepares to defend her title at Wimbledon in June, she talks with Travel + Leisure about the tournaments she loves, life off the court, and how to stay healthy on the road.
1. How often do you travel?
My house is in Florida, but because of my heavy tournament schedule, I feel like I'm never there. I travel almost every week. I call it my life on tour.
2. Who goes with you on all your trips?
If I'm on the circuit, I travel with my dad, trainer, and a practice hitter. On vacation I bring my mom and friends.
3. Do you have a favorite tennis tournament?
I would have to say Wimbledon. Its village-like atmosphere is so cozy, and we get to stay in small cottages since there are no hotels close to the courts.
4. Any hotels you would recommend on the circuit?
The Crown in Melbourne is amazing—it's modern but it's also incredibly comfortable. I always stay there during the Australian Open. The hotel has so many shops and restaurants that you hardly need to leave.
5. You took time off recently to regroup before the new tennis season. Why did you choose the island of Nevis?
I'd heard that the Four Seasons there was beautiful and private, which was just what I needed after a year in the spotlight. I felt as if I were in a jungle, and the food was delicious. I spent most days in the sun, gazing at the water, and relaxing at the spa. I highly recommend the mango hot-stone massage.
6. Where do you think you might go on your next vacation?
I'd love to go to Corsica. But any island with crystal clear water will do.
7. What's always in your carry-on?
My laptop goes with me everywhere—we are in the 21st century, after all. And I bring Kiehl's lip balm, Fresh moisturizer, my pink iPod mini, and a good book. I've just started reading Teri Agins's End of Fashion.
8. Where do you spend your time when you're not on the court?
My biggest weakness is shopping. I love shoes. Whether I'm in New York, Paris, Miami, London, or Milan, my favorites are Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Dolce & Gabbana, and Miu Miu. Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton are at the top of my list when it comes to clothes.
9. Do you have any favorite restaurants?
Definitely Nobu in New York, and this little French restaurant called Crème de la Crêpe in Hermosa Beach, California.
10. How do you keep healthy on the road?
I try to eat well and make sure to go for a walk or a jog whenever I arrive in a tournament city, just to get used to the air. It's so much nicer to work out in the fresh air. If I didn't play tennis for a living, I'd never set foot in a gym.
Harrods (87-135 Brompton Rd., Knightsbridge, London; 44-207/730-1234; www.harrods.com)
Scoop (532 Broadway, New York; 212/925-2886; www.scoopnyc.com)
Barneys shoe department (660 Madison Ave., New York; 212/826-8900; www.barneys.com)
Duty Free for make-up
Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, California (www.rodeodrive.com)