Paris, May 25
Maria Sharapova is ideally placed to judge how womenís tennis is evolving as her career to date straddles two distinct generations.
Still only 25, the Russian made her first forays into the WTA circuit as a gangly teenager at a time when the Williams sisters and Belgian pair Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters reigned supreme.
Now, Henin has retired, Clijsters will do so later this year and while Serena battles on, time looks to be running out fast for Venus.
In their place have come new world number one Victoria Azarenka, with Petra Kvitova winning Wimbledon and Agnieszka Radwanska making steady progess up the the ladder of world rankings.
Through it all Sharapova has endured, enjoying the highs of three Grand Slam titles and the world number one spot and the lows of injury and form loss.
"Yeah, I feel like Iíve been a part of a few different generations," she said on Friday ahead of Sundayís start of the French Open. "I was really the young one coming up and playing against the Williams sisters and the Belgian girls.
"Now Iím 25 years old, and you see a newer generation coming up that is doing extremely well, which is very much expected. Itís called time and years.
"There are always going to be younger players than you, and then I still am facing a lot of the opponents I started with from the young age.
"Itís been interesting to see the changes and the different players, as well. But I think itís added a lot of good things to the game."
Comparing them in terms of abilities though is something that Sharapova says she finds tough to do.
All the same she is in no doubt that Serena Williams, who thumped her 6-1, 6-3 in the final of the Madrid Masters, is a class act.
The two cannot meet in the final on June 9 as they are in the same half of the draw but could clash in the quarter-finals.
"Well, sheís such an experienced player that has been under so many different circumstances and achieved so much in her career," she said.
"When sheís fit sheís extremely strong on the court and hits a very powerful ball. That makes her very dangerous."
Sharapova has enjoyed a mainly injury-free year to date and after losses to Azarenka in the finals at the Australian Open and Indian Wells she won on clay at Stuttgart and Rome.
She also reached the semi-finals here last year before losing to eventual champion Li Na and has confirmed over the last 12 months that she has worked out how best to play on clay.
"Iím much more comfortable on this surface," she said.
"Even though I donít play too many tournaments on it throughout the year, I feel like with every year that has come and the clay court season that arrives, I feel physically stronger."