THE HOT SEAT WITH MARIA SHARAPOVA
By DANICA LO
New York Post
April 17, 2005
-- Last week, in a blowout party sponsored by Motorola and attended by 660 of her close personal friends, tennis star Maria Sharapova - who has more than $20 million in endorsements - celebrated her coming-of-age. The golden girl finally turns 18 on Tuesday. We caught up with Sharapova before her big soiree to find out what, exactly, makes one of the top-ranked tennis players in the world tick - and what her charmed teenage life is really like.
Q: Did you know from the moment you first picked up a racquet that tennis would be your thing?
A:I was just very competitive when I was younger. When I first picked up a tennis racquet, people - including Martina Navratilova - saw that, and they told my parents that I had a lot of talent. I think that tennis really brought out the competitive spirit in me and, after I began training, my talent picked up from there. If I weren't playing tennis, I probably wouldn't be playing any other sport. I guess you could say that tennis is the great love of my life right now.
Q: Do you remember much about arriving in the United States from Russia to train at Nick Bollettieri's tennis academy?
A:I don't remember a lot, but I do remember coming to America and training a lot in Florida. I didn't see my mom for the first two years, because she was still in Russia.
Q:I read that you were bullied a lot by other students.
A:The other girls at the tennis academy were a lot older than me and, obviously, had different interests than I did at that age. I just didn't pay attention to it. I guess you could say I was pretty tough from the beginning. I was like, "Whatever." I remember being a big fan of Pippi Longstocking. She did whatever she wanted to do, and she just had a lot of fun with her life, even when things seemed really bad. She would always try to make things better. After my mother came over, when I was 9, I moved out of the dorms.
Q:Everyone who interviews you writes "Maria is all about tennis." What are some of your other interests?
A:Tennis is my No.1 priority, as always. But I'm very interested in fashion. That's something I'd love to pursue after my tennis career - I want to be a fashion designer and I want to have my own line. I've always been crazy for style and fashion. Ever since I was young, I've always wanted to look really cool.
Q:Who's your favorite designer?
A:I love Marc Jacobs. His clothes are so girly, but very classy at the same time. Wearing his clothes make you feel like a princess - and so cute! I haven't had the chance to meet him yet. Even though I've been invited to many of his shows, my tennis schedule always conflicts.
Q:What do you do in your free time?
A:I go shopping a lot - I like to call it retail therapy. New York has got to be one of the best shopping cities in the world. These days, I'm really into boutiques. I also love shopping in Japan because you can find different, unique pieces that no one else will have. The sizes are different there, so I can never buy shoes, but I love buying really cropped jackets - they're really cute over jeans.
Q:You must have so many clothes! What do you pack when you travel?
A:Traveling is really hard, because you can't take more than two suitcases with you. What I pack depends on where I go. But my must-have item this season is definitely my pair of Giuseppe Zanotti cowboy boots.
Q:What about school?
A:I'm enrolled in high school on the Internet - Keystone National High School. My favorite subject is biology, but I'm terrible at math. I really respect people who can do math, because I absolutely suck at it. English is really hard, but I do like literature a lot. I've also done a lot of electives - like art, music, sociology and health.
Q: Do you ever feel like you're missing out?
A:I've never really had the experience of being in a school environment, so it's hard to say that I miss something I never knew.
Q:How do you meet people your age?
A:I travel a lot and it's not easy to make friends now. I tend to stick with the close friends and family that I had before I was famous and popular, because I know that they like me for who I am.
Q:How does your fame affect your everyday life?
A:I usually have a bodyguard during tournament events, but on an everyday basis I just go out with my friends. It's not that bad yet.
Q:You were in the March issue of Vogue. What was that like?
A:It turned out to be a really cool shoot. It was a really rainy day in Los Angeles and we shot a bunch of different outfits, but they chose to run the picture of the green Prada dress and the Alexander McQueen shoes. I was looking out the window and the look was really natural.
Q:What kind of advice can you give to other teenage girls?
A:In your teens, you go through a lot of weird moments when you might not feel secure and might feel like everything's wrong in your life. Even though I've never felt really insecure, but there are times when I'm having a bad day, when nothing's going my way, and I'm like, "When's this going to end?" You just have to stay positive.
Q:How do you relax and cheer yourself up on your days off?
A:Usually through some retail therapy!
Q: Do you have anything new coming up?
A:My new perfume is launching in September. It's called Maria by Maria Sharapova. It's been one of the most fun processes of all - I designed the whole thing, from the bottle to the packaging to the scent. It's a light, floral, everyday fragrance. I wanted to make sure it was long-lasting. It's not something you smell and then want to step away from. And I have a new video game coming out - I-play Maria Sharapova Tennis.
Q:Tell us one surprising thing about yourself.
A:I'm naturally a lefty but I play right-handed tennis. I kick and throw with my left hand. I used to write with my left hand when I was younger, but now I write with my right.
Height: 6 feet
Favorite food: chocolate souffl‚
Favorite TV show: "The OC," "24"
Favorite Perfume: Gucci 2 Rush, Marc Jacobs
Favorite Movies: "Mona Lisa Smile," "Something's Gotta Give"
Favorite Colors: Pink, Orange
Dream dinner companion: Gwyneth Paltrow - "I've always found her to be very elegant. She has her own sense of style and she's not trying to be anyone else. She's always classy in her own way." - and Gisele Bundchen - "She has a great personality and a great body."
What's on your iPod? I've been listening to Maroon 5 for the last few weeks.