Wednesday April 8th, 2015

International Tennis Hall of Famer Billie Jean King applauded the work ethic of current athletes Maria Sharapova and Milos Raonic in an essay on The Players' Tribune published Wednesday.

King wrote about her personal experience knowing Sharapova when the latter was 13 years old and quoted Sharapova's agent, Max Eisenbud.

"Maria's work ethic has always been the same since she was four years old and she has continuously improved her game and added new elements to it," he told me. "She added variety, drop shots, got faster, became stronger. Clay has been a tough surface for Maria but she has been able to work on her weaknesses and turned them into strengths."

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Raonic was also quoted in King's essay, speaking about the difference hard work makes for an athlete.

"Some people are more visible about their commitment to a strong work ethic, where other champions like to be more private about it," he says. "But hard work is something you will find amongst everyone that is at the top of their field, their sport, their profession. It's something you can't take for granted and it is what gets you through those tough moments and really take you from being good, to being great, to being extraordinary."

King concluded by pronouncing that "Maria and Milos have figured it out. They have found the all-important balance and they are walking the walk and talking the talk, and their commitment is taking them from great to extraordinary."

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During her playing career from 1959 to 1983, King won 12 Grand Slam titles, including Wimbledon six times. In 1973, she famously defeated Bobby Riggs in the so-called "Battle of the Sexes."

Sharapova currently stands second in the WTA world rankings, having reached the top spot five times, most recently in 2012. Raonic is second in the the ATP world rankings.

- Alex Putterman

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