After Sochi Sharapova Rested and Ready for Title Defense

BNP Paribas Open defending champion Maria Sharapova found herself in new territory earlier this year when she took a trip home

As a member of the Olympic Committee, the tennis star participated in the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Games, and even dipped her toes into on-camera work for NBC. All in a town that she spent part of her childhood in.

“[Carrying] the torch was the biggest honor I could have received,” Sharapova told reporters in Indian Wells. “I was so happy.”

Accompanied by former tennis pro and TV veteran Mary Carrillo, Sharapova helped take viewers on a tour of her hometown. Watch Sharapova’s segment

“I had a great time,” said Sharapova about piecing the story together. “I loved the challenge.”

She also appreciated her six-and-a-half-day breather from tennis.

The world No. 5 had been training non-stop since before the start of the Australian Open swing – now with coach Sven Groeneveld – and reached two semifinals in that stretch in Brisband and Paris, though she was upset in the third round in Melbourne.

“It was nice to get a little bit of a break [in Sochi],” said the four-time Grand Slam champion.

Sharapova makes her 12th appearance at the BNP Paribas Open, winning the tournament in 2006 and 2013. She has also finished as a runner-up in 2012 and reached the semifinals in three other occasions (2005, 2008, 2011).

“I like this period of time of Indian Wells. I’ve been successful here in the past and have great memories for last year.”

The fourth seed plays Germany’s Julia Goerges as the fourth match on Stadium 1 on Saturday. It will be the first step in her attempt to become the first woman to win the BNP Paribas Open three times.