Sharapova does not schedule tournaments with rankings and tournaments in mind. Photo WORLD SPORT GROUP

SHE HAS been in the game since 2001, has consistently been the sport’s top players and won five Grand Slams, including two at Roland Garros.

As the highest-paid female athlete in the world with earnings and endorsements totalling US$29.7 million ($41.3m) between June 2014 and June 2015, Maria Sharapova also packs in a heavy schedule, tending to commitments on court and commercial obligations off it.

After 15 years of top-level tennis, the physical endurance has taken its toll on her body with recurring injuries.

Since the US Open, the Russian has had to skip three tournaments because of a leg injury and withdraw from the Wuhan Open last month after injuring her left forearm.

But Sharapova (photo) has shown no signs of slowing down, even as she has to fend off a rising generation of stars, who are threatening to overshadow her.

Ahead of the WTA Finals Singapore, the world No. 3 left for Europe to get her arm fixed, insisting it is not in her plan to call it a day anytime soon.

She is seeded third and will face Agnieszka Radwanska in her first round-robin tie in the Red Group today and aim to get the job done.

“Well, look, I really love playing tennis,” said the 28-year-old yesterday.

“There’s nothing else that really gives me that feeling and that competitiveness and the thrill, the emotion that I get on the court.

“As long as I will experience that, I will always believe that I have the motivation to become better.

“I think personally that’s inspiring for me because I’m still quite young, even though in this sport there’s a much younger generation coming up. I feel like I’m somewhere in the middle.”

This article first appeared in The New Paper. Read the full story here.