So is life these days for the tennis world's new Hit Girl. Sharapova's July 3 win catapulted her to No. 8 in the WTA rankings, a rise of more than 100 spots since June of 2003. She left Russia with her father, Yuri, at age 7, enduring a two-year separation from her mother, Yelena, to train in Florida. After 10 years of slugging (and famously grunting) in the shadows of bigger names, Sharapova is suddenly juggling interviews and sponsorship offers. Yet people who know her say she is too sweet to let it go to her head. "She always worries about how you feel," says Lansdorp. Herb Muncy, 80, her neighbor in Bradenton, Fla., where her family owns a condo, concurs: "She's not snobbish."
Certainly she's gracious in victory. On Centre Court, she consoled Williams, 22: "Serena, I have to take this away from you for one year. I'm sorry." Supremely confident, she dismisses comparisons with compatriot Anna Kournikova ("I never really had an idol") and suggestions that Yuri pushes her too hard ("Without my dad, I wouldn't be here"). And she's not finished yet. "My next goal," she says, "is to be No. 1 in the world."