MARIA SHARAPOVA: I am. I thought from correcting my mistakes in the first set, I played pretty solid in the second, and I was able to dictate many of the points in the second set.
But the first set was definitely tough. She definitely came up and played some great tennis out there. Didn't give me a lot to work with in the first set. Just had to find a way, and I did.
Q. Your next match is against Daniela Hantuchová. What do you think? Have you played with her before?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've played against her once at the beginning of the year in Japan, and I lost to her. It was on a totally different surface. It was on carpet grass in Japan. So that was a little bit different.
But you know there is - when you go on court and play her, you know that you have to expect a good match from her side because she's been playing very well. And just got to go out there, like I've been doing for all my career, go out and play my game.
Q. Hantuchová has been someone who has been under a lot of pressure over her parents. How do you think she's coped with that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think you've got to ask her about it because she's the one that knows best about it.
But, I mean, in tennis - the tennis life is never easy. Some things just come up that you have to go through, and actually some of these things make you a stronger person and make you aware.
And it's never easy on the tour. You're never gonna get - you're never gonna be happy. There are always gonna be times where you're gonna have to fight through them. And I think that she did that very well and she learned a lot of things.
Q. Speaking of tough life, how difficult has it been for you to be away from your parents while you're developing your tennis game? Obviously, it's paying off. This past year has been incredible.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, my dad, I see my dad every day because he travels with me. But my mom I miss a lot because she stays home. It's very difficult not being able to see her.
But I was in that situation from when I was very little, so kind of getting used to that now. And this is just part of the tour, you know - you either want to do it, or you don't.
Q. What was the most difficult time when you think back to, you know, your early days - you said you've been going through this for years now - when you think back to those days, what was the most difficult point?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The first two years of when I came to the US. Not seeing my mom for two years, being away from my dad, living by myself and developing my tennis. It's very difficult at seven years old, but I managed to get through.
Q. As you get better and better as a tennis player, the pressure's going to come on you more. Do you think that's made you able to cope with it better?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely. I've - I'm in a different situation last year than - this year than I was last year. It was obvious that I was a wildcard here last year, and this year I'm a seed. I'm in those situations this year where I actually have to defend points.
I mean, I'm getting - I'm in totally different situations that so far I've been handling very well. I mean, actually, when you do well in the last year, you're really excited to come back and do well again. So I think that kind of takes the pressure off me, and I always think about that.
Q. Was Anna Kournikova an inspiration at all to you when you were younger?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I actually never watched TV. I never read anything about tennis. I really had no idea what was going on (laughing).
Q. So you didn't know really who she was growing up, playing tennis?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't - not until I was older. But when I first moved to the US, I didn't really know. But of course when I started thinking a little bit more professionally and actually thinking that tennis was something - realizing something was going to develop off my tennis career, then of course I knew a lot more players at that time.
Q. But she didn't have any significance because she's Russian, and you didn't look at her career and think, "I could do that. Maybe even exceed that"?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I never really had an idol throughout my whole career, no.
Q. Can you just talk about, you said this year has been - obviously, you were a wildcard last year, you're a seed this year. You've jumped 100-something in the rankings. Can you talk about this year. Is it what you expected? Has it even been a little bit better than what you expected?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the first thing I want to say is that hard work always pays off. I know that whenever I'm training in the off-season or I was training before the clay court season, I knew that I had to work hard, and I knew that good things would happen if I did so. And I'm always aware how my body feels. I'm kind of taking care of myself and enjoying. And of course if you don't enjoy it, you're never gonna be good.
So that's what I've been doing, and I've been having a lot of fun. I think when you have fun out there, plus you're smart on the court, those things, they add up. I mean, you win matches.
Q. Do you get the sense that there's more responsibility for you, even more than just the tennis because people are looking at you maybe differently than some other tennis players, as maybe a person that they can market to the tennis public more than maybe another player?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Whenever I go on court, I just think about my tennis performance. I don't think about what I'm gonna look like or what people are thinking about the marketing side. This is why I'm here. I'm here to play tennis, and I'm not here to think about anything else.
Q. Even off the court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Off the court, my number one priority is tennis.
Q. Does your coach travel with you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes. My coach? Well...
Q. I mean Robert.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Robert, no, he's never travelled, no.
Q. Have people come to you and wanted to do commercials or anything like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes.
Q. And would that be a part of your life? Is that something that you would look forward to, being a commercial endorser as well as a tennis player?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, these things, these things come with tennis. And if you're great, you're gonna get a lot of these options.
And, I mean, it's the decisions you make. You either - you commit only to tennis, or you commit to tennis but then you - if you have an opportunity and you are really excited about doing something, a commercial, and you don't want to let it get in the way of your tennis, of course you can do that.
But in my mind, tennis is always my number one priority. If I've got an offer to do a really exciting thing, and I can, you know, I can try that, then I would. But in the back of my mind, like I said 20 times before, tennis is my number one priority.
Q. You're back this year as a seed. How far are you aiming at Wimbledon this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I really want to win the tournament. If it's not this year, I want to win next year. I just want to win it. It's my goal. And I'm here, I'm here to win it.
Jul 7th, 2004, 11:37 PM
Third round: Maria beat Daniela Hantuchová 6-3 6-1
M.Sharapova - Interview
Friday, June 25, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Good evening, everybody. Can I present Maria Sharapova. Who would like to ask the first question?
Q. Some celebration at the end.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I was happy. First time on Centre Court, a great feeling, playing well. So just a lot of emotions out there in the end.
Q. You got yourself into such a momentum on grass. You must feel as if you have a great chance of certainly surpassing your seeding?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm feeling very confident. I've been playing very well. I got a lot of matches in in Birmingham. Coming in here, I've just been playing very well. Picked up my level from the last two matches and definitely showed that today out there.
I'm just looking forward to the next match at this point.
Q. Going into that match knowing she played really well last week, in your head that must have been possibly a very dicey match going in?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the sooner I won a tournament on grass, too. I knew we both were going to be playing well. We both were on our way up at this stage, especially on grass, which is probably maybe for both of us a good surface.
Definitely when I came out on the court, I was expecting a very tough match. Definitely I think maybe the score didn't really show it, but point after point, you really had to fight for it.
Q. I know this is a different surface, but what was the difference between today and the loss you took to her in February?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Today my game was just on. I served very well. I think that's the key when you're playing a good player - if you can serve and keep hold of your serve, just trying to get the momentum on the return, which I did. And she served great, too, today. But I just kind of like a snake tried to find my way in there.
Q. What does it take to make you smile on court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I would smile. I would do anything. But I just try to keep my concentration. I mean, I'm kind of an outgoing person. I mean, I can be focused, but I don't really want to let my focus go. You know, sometimes I do want to smile, but then I think to myself, "Maybe if you do smile, maybe your concentration will go off a little bit." I don't want to let that happen.
Q. How do you like living in Southern California? Is it a place you'd like to live, say, apart from tennis?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, my house is actually in Florida, but in California I spend a lot of my time, as well. I do, I like it a lot. I made a lot of good friends there. And Robert obviously there. It's a beautiful city. I kind of don't like the earthquakes, but...
Q. Is Robert here with you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, he's not here.
Q. You seem very much at home on the Centre Court. Looked like you enjoyed it out there.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I did. I was enjoying every moment. These are just the moments in life we have to enjoy because not every teenager - I mean, not every girl, not every person gets to experience such a moment in their lives. To actually be playing at Wimbledon, I mean, it's amazing.
A few hours before the match, I was watching the TV and Henman was playing. I'm like, "Okay, I'm going to be on that court in a few hours. Right now I'm sitting on the couch." It's amazing, it really is.
Q. Is it a dream come true for you to be on Centre Court and to be the center of attention like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, it is. Everybody wants to be on Centre Court. Everybody wants to have that feeling of being surrounded by an amazing crowd that wants to watch your game and loves the tennis and is really into it, as the crowd was today.
It's a really good feeling.
Q. How would you describe the feel of that court when you go onto it compared to the other ones you've played on?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: To tell you the truth, I'm not really good at those things. I mean, with racquets or with courts, I'm not really good at that. I mean, I had to ask somebody else which one is faster or slower. So, I'm not really good like that.
Q. Just the atmosphere.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the atmosphere - the stadium itself is just - it doesn't look big, but it kind of surrounds you and makes you feel like the crowd is really into the match. That's what makes the stadium so great. It doesn't have to be so big and so tall. I think every seat in that stadium has a very good view. But you know that everybody's really enjoying it.
Q. With Anastasia going out of the tournament this morning, the attention and pressure will grow on yourself as the tournament progresses. Are you ready and able to cope with that increased attention?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think it's pressure. When you go through every match, you play a different opponent. Today I played against Daniela. I knew she's been playing well and I was playing well. I mean, I like these challenges. The next round's going to be a different challenge. I'm willing to take those challenges, yes.
Q. How would you describe your game and your mentality on the court, that slapping your thigh all the time, that focus, that stare?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I'm a tough girl (laughter). I don't want to give my opponents any chance. I just fight for every ball because I know that every ball is important, and it shows, you know. What can I say?
Q. Where does that come from?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. My desire to be the best.
Q. Anything to do with how you grew up or coming from Russia?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, yes, I think these things kind of build you up as a person, definitely. But at this point, I mean, I just - when you're in the moment, you don't think about what happened to you in the past or whatever. You think about the present, of course. You just want to win. And that's what I want to do.
Q. Obviously over the last year you've improved a lot, but especially the last few months you can really see that your game's firmed up, you're more solid, you seem a little more focused. What's been working for you? What's been the key?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thanks for the compliment. I really think it's the hard work. I don't think there's anything else to it. I don't think anything in my game's really missing at this point. It's just the experience, it's just getting stronger. I don't think I have something that's so weak that I need to work on it.
But, I mean, just going in day after day in the off-season or before the tournament. Of course, there's nothing you can do during the tournament, but before the tournaments, get your mentality going and just work hard. And that's what I've been doing. I've been really focused this year. I mean, I know what it takes to achieve winning a Grand Slam and being No. 1 in the world. It takes a lot of hard work, and that's what I'm prepared for.
Q. Has anything you've done surprised you as of late?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, life takes you by surprise. I mean, you never know. I think you just have to just live the day. I mean, there's going to be a lot of surprises, good and bad. You just have to go through those moments, enjoy the good moments like I did today and just toughen it up when you have a bad moment. It's just the way life is.
Q. You're on a bit of a roll at the moment. Your ranking is as high as it's been. Do you feel this really could be your year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I just want to take it a match at a time right now. I don't want to think about this is my year, this is not my year. I know that I want to win this tournament. It's like I said the last interview, if I don't do it this year, I want to do it next year. I just want to do it.
Q. How much of your drive comes from the sacrifice that your parents made to help you get into tennis and accomplish what you've accomplished?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, definitely the move to the US was an amazing sacrifice. I mean, you either win or you lose. I mean, it's a 50/50 chance that you're going to play on Centre Court at Wimbledon a few years later. So you just never know what can happen.
Definitely my parents have been through me through all the good times and the bad times, and I owe a lot to them, because they're the people that care the most about me. They've been through my life, through my career. They're the ones that know me best. You know, they're my best friends, so I owe a lot to them.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: When you have $700 in your pocket and you go to the US...
I mean, it's a new country, you don't have the language, you don't know what's going to happen, yeah.
Q. Is that a lot of pressure on you to have to carry that? Your family was basically kind of putting all their marbles on you to succeed or else it would have gone backward.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, my parents from when I was born, my mom actually, while I was born, she never took me to kindergarten, I was never in school. She was always taking care of me. They always wanted for me to be happy, for me to be going in the right direction in life, and they always cared for me. I mean, it's very important. Like I said, I owe a lot to them.
There is no pressure because I know that I love them, and for what they have done, I know I can give back to them by these moments like today. I mean, calling my mom, and she's excited, and she's calling my grandparents, and they're excited in Russia. They can't sleep at night. It's chaos. It's absolute chaos. But these are just the moments. It's great.
Q. Because you know how it is to be poor, you came to the States with $700, now that you've made a fair amount of money, are you still pretty tight with your money or will you go out after a big win and buy yourself gifts?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, first of all, when I was seven years old, I didn't think I was poor. I mean, we lived a normal life in Russia. I wouldn't say we were poor. We were just like average people.
Of course, when you go to the United States, with $700, of course you're considered poor. I was seven years old. I had no idea what was going on. Of course, I knew there were some little richer kids than I was at that age. But in the back of my mind, I was just working hard and trying to achieve what - you know, I'm here. So it's a very good feeling.
And then after this or like after the French Open, definitely, I can go out and spend some money. I mean, these past years, it's been feeling a little bit easier spending my money. I don't feel so guilty anymore.
Q. How old were you when you first got interested in tennis and how did it come about?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I just started - I started when I was four years old. But the interest, I always loved to compete, anything. If there were kids out, I would tell them, "Okay, let's play, we got to play." I hated hitting doing the drills, I hated hitting ball after ball, I just wanted to play, I just wanted to compete. I don't know when I actually thought this is something that I love to do.
Q. What was the connection with tennis in particular?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: With tennis? It was just a sport I picked up.
Q. Must be a pretty frightening prospect to get off the plane in a foreign land with a little about it of money. Take us through the first two or three steps. What were the first things your family did?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was only with my dad when we came because I didn't see my mom for two years because she couldn't get a visa.
We landed in Miami airport, and - I was seven years old, guys, I don't know. But I think we took a bus and we drove to Bollettieri. We came there like at 12 midnight. Somehow, I don't know, stayed in a hotel. The next morning we came to the academy. That's how it all started.
Q. Your first memories of Nick?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't have them. I don't remember anything.
Jul 8th, 2004, 11:03 PM
Fourth round: Maria beat Amy Frazier 6-4 7-5
M. Sharapova Interview
Monday, June 28, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Maria Sharapova. First question.
Q. I'm sure you never underestimate your opponents, but she played extremely well through patches of that match. Do you feel pleased or relieved to get through that, considering how well she played?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She definitely played a great match, and she made me work for it until the last point. I was very relieved because knowing that, you know, she just beat a No. 2 seed, a French Open champion, she must be in good form. That really showed today.
I had to fight through it. What can I say? It wasn't easy.
Q. What did you tell yourself to do when she was hitting such great balls?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just keep going, take it point at a time. I mean, sometimes when people are on a roll, and they can't miss, there's nothing really you can do until you just wait and be positive and not get down on yourself, try to think what maybe you can do a little bit different.
But, I mean, when somebody's playing good tennis and when they're on a roll and on every point and they're playing unbelievable, sometimes there's just not too much you can do. But somehow you have to find a way.
Q. 5-4, Frazier is serving for the second set, 30-All, court's wide open, you're sitting on the backhand side waiting to watch a ball go through the court, suddenly it comes right back to you. Were you astonished?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, because I was running to that side so fast, and I really didn't think I could get to that ball. And once I got to that ball, I was like, "This is it." And then I got the other ball. I hit it down the line. Then I ran for another ball. It was a totally messed-up point. I felt totally out of the court on that point.
But I managed to hit the passing shot quite well. I think that point really turned things around. I mean, that situation, when it's 30-All and she's serving for the set, that thing kind of happens, I mean, you know, it could have been a totally different story. Third set. It was really close.
Q. Were you very surprised to see the ball coming right back at you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't have enough time to be surprised because everything happened so quick. But, I mean, she does hit a lot of shots behind sometimes and trying to trick the player a little bit. But, I mean, I played two sets, I was kind of really used to that by now. So I saw that.
Q. Did you see the match with Sugiyama?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't have a chance. I was in the locker room, just stretching.
Q. Your match with her.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Excuse me?
Q. How do you feel about your chances against her in the next match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've never played her before. What can I say? There's nothing I can really predict because I haven't played her before. I've seen her play a few times. But I'm in the quarterfinal and so is she. We've been playing some very good tennis in order to get there.
So, I mean, I'm looking forward to a very tough match.
Q. Could you feel today the age difference between the two players, her experience as opposed to your teenage years?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She definitely has a lot of experience behind her back, and I already played her two times before this match-up. I knew that in certain situations, she can come up with the goods knowing that from previous matches that she just has that confidence and she knows at certain points, certain situations, she can do something else. She's very smart. I mean, going into the match, you know that she's playing well, but also in the back of your mind you know that you have done well and you've had good matches and you've won tough matches and you've been in situations like that.
So, I mean, definitely the age is a big difference, but when you're on the court, you don't think about the age or anything else.
Q. Physically how much stronger are you now, say, over the last eight months?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Eight weeks? How long?
Q. Eight weeks, no.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: How long?
Q. Eight months.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Eight months.
Q. Since the off-season, how much work do you put into your off-court training and how much has that helped you this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's a very important part of the game, for sure. I've been working on that in the off-season like crazy because it's one thing that I think can improve my game tremendously, getting stronger physically, being able to last two weeks at a Grand Slam, as now I'm in the second week. You know, I just have to realize how my body feels and adjust to certain things and get used to that.
But I'm feeling very good. I've had the experience the last year. I'm getting more experience this year. Physically I'm feeling a lot stronger, which is a good thing.
Q. What did you learn from your first Grand Slam quarterfinal and what - that you did learn from that can you take into this next match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, first of all, Roland Garros is on clay, this is on grass. The points are totally different. I mean, it's a lot quicker here.
Going into a quarterfinal match, I don't think about if it's a quarterfinal or first round. I just want to go out and just play my game. It doesn't matter what round it is.
But I know that I've been playing well and I know also on the other side of the court my opponent's playing well, too. So just got to go out there and play.
Q. You love to go for a lot on your service returns. Is that just you or are there situations where you think you have to play returns a little more safely than you have been?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think, especially today, maybe I pushed it a little bit too much because at the beginning I thought she was just playing too well, and I just tried to do something extra. I try to bang everything and try to make her late. But I was not - that was not really working.
But I realized that I just needed to slow it down a little bit. My returns the past two weeks on grass have been very well, but today was just - I mean, her serve is very good and consistent. When she gets that first serve in, it's very hard, and it's powerful and low. So sometimes you can't do anything, unless you roll it back over the court. And against Amy that's very tough, because you know that the next ball's going to be a winner.
I mean, I have to learn from these situations, I think. It's just about experience.
Q. There was always a lot of pressure on you when you came over because of the investment that you made, your family made in your tennis. Has that pressure over the years taken away any of the fun of playing the game or do you find you can have as much fun as the next person?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: There was never, ever pressure. Pressure's out of my case right now. I don't know what pressure are you talking about?
Q. I mean, in a sense your family invested their future with you, bringing you over.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: But there's no pressure. I mean, who has an opportunity in life like I do right now at the age that I am? I mean, not too many people. And pressure, I mean, hey, if I pressure and I feel that I have too much pressure, I'll just leave. I mean, I'm 17 years old. What do I have to lose in this world?
I mean, I'm happy with what I'm doing, and I know that my parents have made a lot of sacrifices in my life and they always try to do the best for me.
But I know that at moments like these I can return them with favors. That's what they wanted me to do in life.
Q. You're developing quite a following in England, a lot of fans. Does support from fans help you at all when you play?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely. Fans are a big part of the sport. If you have a whole crowd behind you in a tough match or just fans that enjoy playing your match or things like that, I mean, you're out there for them, you really are. Of course, you're out there for yourself and to do well, but they are the ones that watch you. They are the ones that follow you. And, you know, that's why we go out there and we try to show the best tennis. We just try to kind of interact with them.
Q. Max says you're studying for three tests at school. What are the subjects you're studying for?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Sociology, English and math.
Q. When will you be ready to take those tests?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm taking one of them right now.
Q. Are you going to pass?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know yet. But I hope so.
Q. Which one?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Sociology.
Q. Would you say that you've exceeded your expectations for this tournament? What are your goals? How far do you think you can go here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: My goal is just to see - just to play my next round. I don't have any future goals. I just want to go out and play my next round. And I don't have any goals for this tournament. Of course, I want to win it, but I know that I have to go out and play match by match.
Q. What about a long-term goal as far as this tournament goes?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: This tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I want to win Wimbledon, that's a fact. But, I mean, that's always been my dream. But I don't really set goals for myself.
Q. When is the last time you were nervous in a big match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Nervous? I'm not - I don't really get nervous. It's not really about nerves for me. Sometimes you just go out, sometimes you just don't know on the day what can happen. So I feel a little bit like I'm out of - you know, I don't know what's going to happen next or I don't know how I'm going to play today or something like that. But I wouldn't really call it nerves.
You know, sometimes when you're playing a top player, you get those feelings. But I don't - I mean, every match in certain situations, of course, there's going to be those moments where you're going to feel a little bit more nervous than other points. But that's part of the game and that's why I like it so much.
Q. Did that happen against Suárez at Roland Garros or was that just a bad day for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think that was a bad day for me. I was going out in that match. I was so happy to be in the quarterfinal. With the court being so slow on that day, those conditions, knowing she was such a good clay court player, and, I mean, she played so smart on that day, and I was off my game. So it was kind of that thing.
Jul 10th, 2004, 12:41 AM
Quarter-finals: Maria beat Ai Sugiyama 5-7 7-5 6-1
M. Sharapova Interview
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Maria Sharapova.
Q. You looked at the end of the match as if you didn't believe you had won and gotten to the semifinal?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't believe it at all. These things don't happen every day. Especially looking at the first two sets, I was always down. I never thought that I could turn it around. But somehow I did.
Just emotions, definitely.
Q. Yesterday in the Amy Frazier match, at a crucial point in the second set, Amy gave you a ball back that you weren't expecting at 5-4, 30-All. Today incredibly almost the same situation with Sugiyama with an overhead that turned into a crucial point in the second set. Did you start believing maybe you're destined to get to the final here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You could have just asked that question without telling me about the point.
Q. I want to hear your answer.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I don't really think about the points when I play. But a few points can definitely turn the match around. And instead of losing, I just won, and I'm in the semis. It's a very good feeling.
But I'm not going to think about it's destined to be or it's not destined to be, things like that. I just want to keep going and keep playing and keep having fun.
Q. Have you surprised yourself at how well you've didn't here this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I haven't surprised myself because I've been playing very well on grass and I've been feeling very good and just coming off of a title in Birmingham, knowing that this is one of my favorite surfaces, you know. This is where my game sometimes comes together. So I was very happy that somehow it came together today.
Q. The biggest problem today was your opponent, how she played, was yourself because you were tense or you didn't play your best tennis? What was it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the first two sets she got some amazing balls that usually with other people would be winners 10 balls ago. But she makes you play ball after ball after ball. Especially on grass when it's so fast, sometimes you don't expect these things to happen. It's not like we're playing on clay where I know that everything is going to come back. But she just played amazing.
Everything she got, she hit a very good shot out of it. I mean, it was so consistent that just ball after ball after ball, her balls are so deep that sometimes I try to do a little bit more extra because I knew that is what it would take to actually win the point. Sometimes I think I tried to do a little too much. I was a little unlucky in the first set where some of the balls just missed by few inches. It happened with a few points.
You know, somehow I just got into my game. I didn't really change anything except I served a lot better in the third set.
But my game plan, it didn't really change.
Q. Apart from serving a lot better in the third set, what do you put down as the reason for it being such a one-sided deciding set after the two tight opening sets?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think my return was very consistent in the first two sets. Giving her all the credit for serving well because she did serve quite well for the first two sets. In the third set, I kind of realized that I looked back and I thought, "Well, you haven't been returning well, so why don't you go in and just step it up out there, get to the baseline, sometimes just rip?" I think a few balls I got even lucky and a few balls maybe she miss-hit.
I mean, it seemed easy, the third set, but it really wasn't because I had to fight for it, even on her serve.
Q. Would it be fair to say you put more energy into the third set? You seemed to be making more noise than you had done in the previous two sets.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know about the noise, but game-wise I felt a lot better, a lot better with my game in the third set. I felt like from any position in the court I could hit a good shot. That's a good feeling to have when you're in the third set. We had so many rallies that I kind of knew what she was doing, you know, what her game plan was a little bit, got used to her game because I never played her before.
Q. Is there anything significant about the necklace? Is it a good luck?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I always wear a cross.
Q. Will you wear that all the time? Do you do anything with superstition? Is there something you always do?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, no. This I wore all my life. I just always wear a cross.
Q. In a tough match like today, how much did the experience of playing here two years ago and reaching the finals as a Junior, how much does something like that help you out?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, gosh. I don't know. Because the Juniors is a totally different story than the professional tour. It's amazing what a difference it is really. But learning-wise, I don't think I learned that much about being in the Juniors. But I think last year being in the pros for the first year gave me a lot of experience because I played some top names and I won a few good matches and I got experience from others and I did well.
I think experience definitely helps, especially in these situations. I'm only 17 and I haven't had that much experience. I learned a lot in the last year.
Q. She probably ran about 150 miles today. You ran her from one corner to the other. She did keep making you hit one more shot. Do you think by the third set when you really began to roll that she just got a little bit tired?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I sure hope so because, I mean, if she kept running like that in the third set, that's just too good, you know. There's not much you could do.
And like I said, a few balls, I just got a little bit unlucky. I made a few errors which I shouldn't have made, but some balls were just a little bit out.
She did make me go for my shots a little bit more to hit the winner, and I knew that she was just playing good tennis. She was running everything down. And I knew that she was quick, but I was a little surprised because it was grass and sometimes points finish a little quicker. But we had some long rallies today.
Q. What does it feel like to be the only Russian player left in the draw?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I don't really think about that for my side. I'm just happy to be in the semifinals. That's what I'm really concerned about. Unfortunately, you know, we don't have any more Russians out there. But, you know, I'm happy that I am the only one, of course.
Q. Do you think you can take another step forward into the final?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm definitely going to try. I'm going to give it my all. That's what I'm here for, and I want to win this tournament. I want it very bad. When you have a big passion for something and you want to achieve something, I mean, I'm going to give it my all definitely.
Q. Do you have some connection with Davenport, the coach maybe, Lansdorp?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, Lansdorp. But he coached her a long time ago.
Q. Do you think there are some similarities between you and her in some way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In the game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, we both hit a pretty powerful ball, both have a pretty good serve. She's a great champion. I mean, one word about her, she's won this tournament and I want this tournament, so it's going to be interesting.
Q. How will you prepare now? What will you do leading up to the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think at this point I'm going to have a day off tomorrow, so just going to practice a little bit. Nothing, I mean, just like what I've been doing the last matches. It's not really anything special.
Q. At 4-1 in the third set, a lot of Maria Sharapova fans were happy to see you come to the net and knock off a volley. Do you have the courage to do that when the match is tight or were you having to battle from behind also?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I tell you one thing, the match was very tight today. I did go to the net and I was very proud of myself because I don't do that quite enough as I would like to do it. So actually, I went to the net from a second serve, I don't know what I was thinking on that ball. But I did.
Q. Do you have the capability of imparting some spin on that ball or is everything going to be hit flat when you play your next round?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, when I play, I don't think about - of course, it really depends who you play. But on this surface, I mean, the points are quick. You have to somehow adjust. But, of course, the powerful game really works on the surface.
Q. I saw James Brown sing at the weekend. I've seen you play tennis today.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Who?
Q. James Brown, Godfather of Soul. You both punctuate your performances like "HHH." How do you determine which shots you grunt with?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't.
Q. Which of your colleagues are you more close with and can you say why?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The Russian girls?
Q. Yes. Or other players.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: To tell you the truth, I get along with many of the girls. But this is a tour, and it's a professional sport, and it's very difficult to be friends because you never know, you might be playing them in the next round. Of course, you want to beat them.
But I'm pretty good friends with Maria Kirilenko, all the Russian girls I know them well. We always have conversations, we always laugh together. We have very friendly attitudes towards each other. Also, I mean, I really get along with everybody.
Q. Why do you give some kisses to the crowd? Is just a habit? Is because you want to thank them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes, because I want to thank them. It's very important because they're the ones that go out, they're fans, they cheer for you, they watch your match and they enjoy the tennis. You just want to give back to them and say, "Thank you for coming out and thank you for supporting both of us."
I mean it's always good when somebody supports your sport and buys a ticket and goes and watches you. And when you win, you just want to say thank you.
Q. Myskina has a pretty impressive record against her fellow Russians. Do you feel like a player gets an edge over the other players from their nation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I never thought about that, no.
Jul 10th, 2004, 02:26 AM
i have interview video!
but wimbledon! i don't diffuse!
Jul 10th, 2004, 10:56 PM
Semi-finals: Maria beat Lindsay Davenport 2-6 7-6 6-1
M. Sharapova interview
Thursday, July 1, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Lindsay won an unusually large amount of points by hitting her first serve up the middle in the ad court. I kept thinking each time that you would move over closer to the middle. Did that ever occur to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is that a joke?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Because I left like the whole wide court open for her.
Q. If you would have moved a little closer to the middle, she won so many points.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I did though. I did. But that serve of hers down the middle is a joke. It's so accurate. I mean, you know that she's going to go there, but of course there are two sides of that box. So if you open that up, you know she has a good wide serve, too.
But I did. I left a lot of space to hit that wide serve, but she kept going down the T. I think that's how I started picking it up.
Q. What did you do during the rain delay? How did you regroup to turn things around?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was reading the OK Magazine to be accurate (laughter).
Q. Was it good?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it was quite boring.
Q. What did you do to turn things around?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I just hung in there. I just kept believing in myself. I did everything I could to win, and I was just fighting. Especially in the tiebreak, I wanted it so bad, that I just gave it my all.
Q. We have Roman Abromovich in London, Russian sports fan. Do you know him at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.
Q. How does it feel to be in the final?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's a shock. I don't think I've gotten it in my system yet because I don't know how to react. And I look at my dad and I looked at my coach, and I tell them, "Am I in the final? I mean, I'm playing the finals on Saturday."
It's amazing. I don't have any other words. All the hard work in my life, all the sacrifices. First of all, I never expected it to happen so early in my life. I knew that I could achieve many things if I worked hard and if I believed in myself, but I never expected to do so well at such an early age - to get to the final. I mean, good results, but getting to the final of Wimbledon, my favorite tournament, is just amazing.
Q. There's a huge difference between the two halves of the match, before and after the break. Can you pin down any reason or reasons why there should be such a transformation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In the first set, I actually felt pretty good when we got into the points. I felt like, even though I was losing some of them, in most of them I was in control. But in the first set, her serve was just too good. There was not too much I could do. I didn't make her play - I didn't return and I didn't make her play any balls after that. So there she thought, "I just have to serve a good serve and the point's over."
In the second set, I slowly started to make her hit that second ball. A few points I won, a few points she won. It was that kind of battle on her serve. And on mine, as well.
Q. Two breakpoints at 4-All and 5-All. You served an ace on one, a service winner on the other. Did you realise if you lose either one of those points, you probably lose?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, yeah, she's serving for the match. With that big of a serve of hers, it's basically over.
But I didn't think about that. I was just concentrated on the point by point. I don't know. I got it.
Q. The semifinals going on now, do you have anyone watching it to scout the styles of the players?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, because at this point it doesn't matter. What I've been doing these whole past two weeks is going on and just playing my game. It doesn't matter who I play. I've just been going out and just believing in myself that I can do it, and I've just been winning. It really doesn't matter who I play. I just want to go out and I want to have fun. It's my first Wimbledon final. It's an amazing feeling. And at this point I don't think it really matters.
Q. You're such a strong fighter. Could you talk about that fighting spirit which you have? Where did you get it? Have you developed it? Is that your favorite part of yourself on court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It really comes naturally. I would say that I've always been a competitor through my whole career. I've always wanted to play matches, always wanted to play points. I was never that kind of person that I wanted to practice and get myself better. I just wanted to compete and I wanted to play against girls, boys, whatever, older, younger, and I wanted to win.
I guess that's where this comes from. But it's always been natural.
Q. Do you feel you have a stronger fighting spirit than some of the other young players on tour?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think that is one of my strengths, that I fight, and I really want to win. I just try to give it my all the time, even though sometimes it's impossible, but I do.
Q. You hit every stroke really hard. How much do you take care about tactics and how much you let your instinct manage your game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I usually play a lot with instinct. I think I've always played - my whole career, I've played by instinct. Of course, you're going to have tactics going into a match because, I mean, you have to know the opponent's weaknesses, strengths, you know, what you can do best against your opponent.
Throughout my whole tennis career, I've always just gone out and I've played with instincts. When it's certain situations, I've played with instincts. That's just the way I am.
Q. Different tactics even if it was Mauresmo or Williams into the final?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course, different tactics, they're different players. But, I mean, when you're going on court, it doesn't matter about the tactics, it doesn't matter about, I mean, how you've been coached. It's about that moment. It's about what you're going to do.
In the back of your mind, of course, you're going to think about the little weakness or something. But, I mean, at that point, you're just going to think about what you do best.
Q. Did your mom and dad tell you about Olga Morosova in 1974? Are you proud to be the first Russian to reach the final since then?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, my parents didn't tell me that. No, my parents just told me, "Congratulations."
Q. Not today. Are you aware of her, Olga, what she did?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't really pay attention to the sport. I didn't really watch it on TV while I was younger. But I knew about her. I knew that she was a great Russian player. But, you know - I don't know what to say on that question.
Q. Adjusting your hair seems to give you quite a lot of bother between points. You're always busy fixing your hair. Does it bother you? Should you get a headband?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: If it bothered me, I would have got it already.
Q. What would the reaction be like back in Russia? Big moment for your country?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It is. I definitely hope so. I love playing for my country, and I've always been happy playing for it. I mean, just those emotions at the end of the match that actually, I mean, another Russian in the final, and it's me, my first Wimbledon final. It's amazing.
Q. How will you prepare for Saturday? Will you relax, read OK, have a drink?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Have a drink? No (smiling).
Q. A couple days ago you mentioned to us that you were studying for some test in school. Could you remind us what you're studying for? I assume you haven't taken them in the past couple days.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Actually I finished my first one, yes.
Q. You did?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Today.
Q. Was that by the Internet?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I have a test in front of me. But, of course, I print it out because I can't spend three hours on the computer. But I print out the test and I do it. I did some today. I wrote an essay actually.
Q. What subject?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Sociology.
Q. Some of us wonder if your dad is a little too involved in your career. Can you address that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Who said that? What?
Q. I think he's stuck up for you in certain situations, maybe a tournament last year in California after you played Petrova. Some security guards have to break up a discussion he was having with Petrova's coach, I believe.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Gosh, that was so long ago. I mean, both of my parents, my dad and my mom, have been through my whole career with me. They've just been always trying to do the best for me and always giving up things in their lives just to do the best for me. And I don't know why would you say that my dad is too much involved in my tennis?
He has done everything for me in my life. He hasn't missed one day in my practice court. I believe in him so much, and I love him - and my mom, too. I wouldn't be here without them, definitely. I mean, they've been with me through the hard times and through the good times. I mean, without my dad, I wouldn't be here, so I don't know. Why would you say that?
Q. Since we don't know who your opponent will be, can you take them separately and just describe what the challenge would be if you face Serena and then do the same if you were to face Amélie Mauresmo.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, they're two different players, and I've played Serena at Nasdaq. I mean, what can I say? She's a very strong girl. She's not a very easy opponent.
I haven't played Amélie, but I just played her in exhibition. I mean, like one of them is going to be in the final, and so am I. So definitely been playing very good tennis.
Just going to go out there. It's my first Wimbledon final. I mean, at this point I don't think it really matters who I play.
Q. Did you reach a level today that maybe even you yourself didn't think you had?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I never thought about getting so far at 17 years old. That's one fact, for sure. I always believed in myself, and I knew that I could do it, and I knew that I could get far and achieve many things. But I never expected things to happen so early. I don't know.
Q. How about your level of play, just the shots you were hitting, your serving and stuff?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well against Lindsay, I mean, she's won this tournament. She has had so much experience, and she's such a great player. To beat her here in the semifinal, it's amazing. I mean, I don't think I've realized yet at what level I was playing. But, I mean, in order to beat her, you must be playing at a very good level, so I assume I was.
Q. Getting back to the big issue on sociology, what was the essay on? In some way, did it help you relax just a bit to take your mind off it? If that's the case, how about doing another test before the final?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, right now I've been studying about like how people communicate, the social part - God, this is hard to explain in front of the press. But I've always done school before because I like to do school. I mean, if I have nothing to do, I just grab school. It's like some people, if they have nothing to do, they grab a magazine like I did in between my matches, but I just grabbed school and I did my essay.
But I always have different topics. I mean, there are a lot of chapters in there.
Q. Did it help you take your mind off?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I mean, I never - when I do one thing, I concentrate on that thing. And when I do the other thing, I concentrate on the other thing. So I just - those are just things that I do.
Jul 10th, 2004, 11:46 PM
Eve of final
M. Sharapova Interview
Friday, July 2, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria, please.
Q. You've now had a night to sleep and think about yesterday. Looking back, what are your emotions now, 24 hours later?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I'm pretty calm. I've just been enjoying the moment. And every time I think about it, that I'm in the final, it's really - it's an amazing feeling. Like it gives me goosebumps because I believe I'm in the situations and I feel like nobody can take it away from me. But on the other side, it happened so fast that it's still kind of new to me.
Q. When you were in this room after your match yesterday, you did not yet know who your opponent would be. Now you do. Can you describe the challenge ahead, and specifically what you need to do to do well against Serena.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, she's been playing some great tennis. She had a challenge yesterday. I think Mauresmo was very close to winning that match. But Serena again pulled it out.
She's a very tough girl and she's a fighter. And we share those similarities, so I'm looking forward to a very tough match.
Q. How about technically, what do you need to do in your game and what in her game is the biggest challenge?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Like I've been doing in every single match, just going out and playing my game. I don't really worry about the technical side of the game.
Q. When you first came to Nick's academy, you may know that Serena and Venus occasionally practised there. Had you ever run into them on a back court or seen them practise there, had an opportunity to hit with them at any time when you were very young?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I never got an opportunity to hit with them. But I did see them practise on one of the courts. I was practising, as well. So I did see them.
Q. Did you find yourself just being mesmerized by how good they were, instead of actually practising yourself?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't really watch them practise because I had my own schedule. Of course, I was trying to concentrate on my work. I don't remember myself watching them, no.
Q. You were talking about your coach, about your father, growing up technically. What was the role of Nick Bollettieri when you were growing up?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the Bollettieri Academy was the place I went to when I first went to the United States. It was kind of our destination in the US. That's where we wanted to go, and that's where we came. And Nick was there, of course, at the time. He helped us out a lot. He gave me the opportunity to practise, as well as with IMG, to give me a scholarship at the academy.
He was on the court with me. Still he's a great supporter. He gives me and my dad a lot of advice all the time.
Q. Can you tell us about the sacrifices that your father made to get you to the position you're in now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've talked about this for so long.
Well, I mean, moving to the United States, also without my mom, but, of course, it was my parents' decision, both of them. And then having to find a job in the United States while my mom was away and me having to live by myself and just developing my career.
Q. Is it true that when you were in the Chernobyl region, you moved away - your father moved the family away from that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right.
Q. Was it true he didn't have a job to go to, but he still did it? Is that the case?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was born in Siberia. The reason we moved from Siberia was Chernobyl when I was two years old. My dad was still going back and forth because of the job opportunity there. And he had a very good job actually over there. So, you know, for the family, he was making a good amount of money in Russia.
My mom and I were living in Sochi. But, of course, he was with us but occasionally had to go to work.
Q. Do you feel more American as a mentality now than Russian probably?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.
Q. Not as a mentality, no, because you're growing up there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I'm still Russian.
Q. Is your mother with you at the moment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.
Q. Is she still in Russia?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, she's in Florida right now because that's our home right now.
Q. You've never been back in Russia sometimes? You spend some times there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course. I still have a house there, and my whole family is there. My grandparents, my cousins.
Q. What is the reaction in Siberia when you come back?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't live in Siberia any more.
Q. Where exactly in Russia?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In Sochi.
Q. You're a friend of Kafelnikov?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.
Q. How will you deal with the nerves that will inevitable accompany a first Wimbledon final?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I haven't been nervous throughout this whole tournament. I've just been enjoying myself, so I'm just going to go out and what I've been doing the last six matches, just play my game and enjoy.
And nerves is part of tennis. I like that part of it. It keeps you motivated, keeps you wanting to be in the situations and get out of them by winning.
Q. Did they affect you in the first set against Lindsay Davenport yesterday?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.
Q. Does it irritate you when people obsess about how you look and your image and write about that in the newspapers rather than just talking about your game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't read the newspapers, so I don't know.
Q. Because of the selection deadlines and rankings, you didn't make the Russian Olympic team this time around. Are you disappointed about that and is that a big goal for you in the future?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I would definitely want to have played the Olympics. But this is just the beginning of my career, and I know that four years is just going to fly by like in no time. I feel like last year I was just here like a week ago, playing as a wildcard. So I'm sure that time will go by very fast and that I'll hopefully make that team in four years.
Q. Next week will be four Russians in the Top 10. Is that type of rivalry that could help you or it doesn't matter about the other Russian players or is something that rivalry could help you in growing up, improve?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I would never call it a rivalry in the first place. But it's great to see so many of your countrywomen be in the Top 10, for sure.
Q. How difficult has it been for you to juggle the studies with the tennis? I think you said before the semifinal, you were still finishing a piece of course work. Have you had course work deadlines as well as tennis deadlines?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I just have a year to finish the course. I can take my time and do the exams. That's kind of why I can handle the school with the tennis.
Q. What do you appreciate most when you watch Serena play? Forgetting for a minute you are playing against her now, but when you just see her game, what are the elements of the way she performs that you most appreciate?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the way she fights and the way that she figures out a way to win. Those are the two key things in tennis, you know, trying to find a way to win even when you're down. And she figures that out.
Q. Which members of your family are going to be watching you here tomorrow? If your mother's not coming, why not?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, because she hasn't been here for the last six matches. I don't want to jinx it (laughter).
Q. You told her to stay away?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, no. But she wasn't planning on coming, no. I mean, she's so excited for me. But, I mean, it's not like she's going, "Oh, my God, oh, my God, I have to go see my daughter play." For her, she's really excited for me. It's just another great moment in life, and I'm going to see her in two days, so I'm very excited about that. You know, she doesn't have a problem with staying home.
Q. Is she not tempted to come here to the final?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I didn't really ask. We didn't talk about that.
Q. Are you thinking about the huge money you're starting to earn after this tournament, because of the final, all the sponsorship? Is something that you start to be involved in, money.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't think about money. I just think that I'm in the final of Wimbledon.
Q. You have a very outgoing personality. Nick said when you arrived in Bradenton, you were very small, very thin, and very, very shy. Was there a tournament victory that made you become more outgoing and more vocal?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think it had anything with tournament victory. When you first come to the United States, to a whole different country and a whole different culture, when you're just seven years old, everything just takes you by surprise. You hit a wall where you've never seen this wall before.
I just think that I didn't speak English the first four months that I was there. So, of course, I couldn't communicate with many of the people. But, you know, I spoke - I learned English in about four months, and then I wasn't shy.
Q. Four months?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.
Q. Is your image and looks very important to you? For Serena, it is very important what she looks like.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think it's very important to feel good about the way you look and to feel confident. When you go on court and you feel like something is messed up and something's not right with the way you look or you don't feel confident with something, I think that can definitely hurt you a little bit, and make you even more uncomfortable out there.
I mean, feeling good, just inside of you, the confidence of feeling good. I don't know if it's about the look or whatever, but just feeling good, I think that's very important.
Q. You're a pin-up now, especially in England. Is that good? Do you enjoy that? Is that something you're uncomfortable with?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't pay attention to that at all. I never considered myself as a pin-up. I never will.
Q. Obviously a great win yesterday. Did you sleep well last night?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I did. I slept very good. Had a good 10 hours' sleep.
Q. Do you get any sense that overnight you've almost been catapulted into a new level of attention on you? All of a sudden from now on in, your life is going to be a great deal different, getting to the final now, taking it up another notch.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't think about I'm the same person. But, yes, I'm in the final of Wimbledon. So, of course, a little bit has changed. But I'm still the same. I don't notice these things that happen in the outside world. I just concentrate on the things that I have to do.
Q. Are there things you feel you can't do, being a 17-year-old at a Wimbledon final that other 17-year-olds might enjoy - going out, learning to drive?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I know how to drive. That's not a problem. I love driving.
Q. What about going out?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Going out? I'm not really a big fan of going out. I like to go to dinner, have fun, have a laugh. But I know my bedtime. I need to keep that. I like my sleep.
Q. Have you ever closed your eyes and dreamed of winning a Grand Slam title?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I never really closed my eyes and dreamed of it, no. But I've always dreamed of it. Yeah, I mean, of course you think about it. You never expect things to happen in the day. It's the future dreams.
Q. Have you done some schoolwork this morning?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not this morning because I kind of woke up late. Had to get ready for practice, you know, the routine, eat.
Q. You said you were shocked to get to the final at such a young age. Are you shocked by the reaction you created, the reaction you had in the last few days?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know what the reaction is.
Q. Everyone is very excited.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's good.
Jul 11th, 2004, 12:48 AM
Thanks for letting us see the reports of these interviews, Andrew.
I think Maria has shown maturity far beyond her years in dealing with them. How on earth does she keep her cool when dealing with, in many cases, such ludicrous questions? Maria, you are truly a STAR!!
Jul 20th, 2004, 12:56 AM
Final: Maria beat Serena Williams 6-1 6-4
M. Sharapova interview
Saturday, July 3, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Wimbledon Ladies' Singles Champion, Maria Sharapova. First question, please.
Q. When did you get the Nokia contract?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, actually I have a Nokia. That was my dad's phone that he gave me. I kept turning it on. It kept going off. I kept turning it on. It kept going off. It's actually a Chinese phone, so I told myself not to bother any more.
Q. You're going to be asked this quite a bit, but how does it feel to hear this, "Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon Champion"?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's amazing, really. I'm absolutely speechless. I never, never in my life expected this to happen so fast. And it's always been my dream to come here and to win. But it was never in my mind that I would do it this year.
When I came off the court and I saw my name on that board already with all the champions, that was when I realized that I had just won. And I was trying to look at the trophy and I was trying to see, I mean, it's in my hands, I don't understand, but it's actually in my hands.
When I came after on the court and saw the board with my name on it, 2004 Wimbledon Champion, that was just it for me.
Q. It seemed like you were expecting to win. You were so calm during the trophy presentation, going to get the cell phone. It almost seemed like you had your list of people to thank. Did you expect to win today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't think about it, but I kept believing in myself. Last night I got a terrible sore throat, and I thought that I was going to get sick. I mean, a Wimbledon final, I was absolutely in tears because I did not think anything like this could happen. I did not think I would be ready to play a Wimbledon final and win.
I don't know. I just - it's amazing.
Q. Can you describe the root of your confidence to take the game to Serena, which so many other players don't even attempt to do?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: To tell you the truth, I don't know what happened in the match. I don't know how I won. I don't know what the tactics were (laughter). I was just out there. I was just playing. I could really care less what was going on outside me. I was in my own little world - I don't know what world that was really.
Q. In many ways, you rolled her. You ran right over her. Nobody does that and no one has done that to Serena before. Were you surprised by that? Are you surprised by that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes, I am. I'm very surprised because, first of all, the first set, I mean, it was very tough, but I felt throughout the whole set like I was in control. I don't know how I got to that point in the first place.
And in the second set, when I lost my serve and I was down 2-4, I was, like, "Okay, Maria, get yourself together." But I pulled it out.
Q. Can you imagine how this is going to change your life from this point?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I don't know. I hope it doesn't change the person who I am right now because I really don't want that to happen. I think I already told a few people, "If I change, then hit me in the head, please."
Q. Did you actually have a chance to enjoy it out there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, yeah, holding that trophy is one enjoyable time in your life, definitely.
Q. During the match, though?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Well, yeah, after I won, match point. I mean, that's an enjoyable moment, for sure.
Q. You said you were in your own little world. Can you possibly describe what it was like inside your head, knowing you were playing for Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, I did not think - I did not think that this was a final. I did not think who was playing. I was just concentrating on what I was going to do, just on myself. I knew that the power was within me and that I could - if I put my mind to something, I would do it. That's what I thought about the whole match.
Q. Did you think the match was mostly a mental victory for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely.
Q. Where did you try to attack her the most? Going in, where did you think she would be most vulnerable?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't really know because I didn't see her play throughout these two weeks. To tell you the truth, I did not have a big tactic going into this match. I was just there to go out and play my game and figure out a way to win and figure out what I needed to do just to get used to her game a little bit. Did that pretty fast.
Q. The reason for you leaving the court towards the end of the knock-up?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: When? Right before the match? I had to go to the bathroom, what else (laughter)?
Q. Was that nerves?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. They were kind of rushing me to go on court. I was like, "Okay, I need to go to the bathroom." But then they already put the flowers in my hands. I was like (laughter). They put the flowers in my hand expecting me to go on court. I was like, "Listen, guys, I have to go to the bathroom." I didn't really pay attention until I got on the court. It was like, "I really got to go."
Q. You stood there a long time waiting to go on court with Serena. It took a long time.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It did.
Q. That could be nerve-wracking for a lot of people. Was it nerve-wracking for you? Were you zoned in?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I was zoned in, but we had a little kid that was going to do the coin toss, and she was there. She was waiting to go on court before us. So we were just, you know, looking at her, having a little chat. You know, I didn't know that she was doing it. The referee was there. But we were just waiting for everybody to go on court before the players did.
Q. Just between me and you, who is the special someone you wanted to thank afterwards?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's not going in the public eye (smiling).
Q. For the benefit of some of us who are new, can you recap your route to this trophy, how it all started, what sacrifices you've made?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Again?
Oh, a lot of sacrifices, just going to the United States when I was seven, not being able to see my mom for two years, being away from my dad for one year because he had to find work. And then developing my career and working hard, trying to achieve this.
Q. Has it been worth it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Has it been worth it? Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Q. Winning Wimbledon is pretty big. If you could calculate at this moment, what is the aspect of your game you would now most like to improve?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think my opponents have always considered my forehand to be my weakness, because that's what I found out during the matches that I played, you know, through my whole career. But thanks to those opponents, my forehand's getting a lot better.
So I don't think there's really - I mean, I still have to get stronger. I still have to develop a lot physically. I have to - I mean, these two weeks, obviously I've made it and I won, but I still got to, you know, have my body prepared and prepare for being for two weeks.
Q. Now you have won your favorite tournament, which one is the next on your list?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'd like to win all of them. I'd like to win all the Grand Slams. I mean, Wimbledon, it's my favorite really, and I'd love to win it many more times, of course. But I'd also like to win all the other Grand Slams.
Q. You must be really psyched up for the US Open now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes, but I'm not really thinking about that right now. I know that after this and after I'm all settled, I get my emotions down, after I've had a little break, I'm going to start working again and developing the things I think I still need to develop in my game.
Q. What television programs have called? Will you be going to the United States? Have any television programs, like David Letterman, Jay Leno?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I don't take care of that right now. My agent does.
Q. Is there someone special in your life you're going to share this victory with? Do you have a boyfriend all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't talk about my personal life. I'm not going to say if I have a boyfriend or if I don't have a boyfriend.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about modeling contracts and endorsements. Does that side of the game interest you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of the game? Well, it's not really a side of the game. It's a totally different side. But it's something - I just enjoy fashion, and I think that getting involved with me signing the contract with IMG models can bring me a little bit closer to the fashion business. Because when I finish my career, I don't want to just stand there and be empty handed and not have many opportunities behind my back.
Q. It seems your forehand and your consistency in serve have all improved of late. Can you talk about the recent growth or evolution of your game, how it's helped you win the title?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, you always work on things that you need to work on. You always figure out a way to make them better. And I think I've had a great team around me that helped me, you know, understand what I needed to work on more than other things. I've just always been trying to work hard.
Q. How are you going to celebrate your victory?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. First I just want to get better. I want to get this sickness out of my system. I can't wait to see my mom, first of all. I'll be flying to New York after the ball tomorrow.
I can't imagine I'm saying this, I'm going to the ball (laughter).
Q. Can you just describe, if you can, that moment that you had with your dad after that hug? What were you feeling? What were you thinking at that very moment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just all that has happened in my life, all the tough moments we've been through, all the good moments. This is what I wanted to achieve all my life, and it happened. That's the person, you know, that I wanted to share it with.
Q. A lot of players have come through the Nick Bollettieri Academy, starting very young, going through the regime there. How much of a help has that been to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, definitely, because the Bollettieri Academy was the first place we wanted to go to from Russia. It was kind of our destination in our minds. So that is where we went.
And definitely Nick and the academy helped me a lot because that's where I got the scholarship, and that's where I was able to start training.
Q. How much of an influence was Robert Lansdorp, and what did he bring to your game that you needed to see him about?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Robert has been - has made a big impact on my game definitely, because when I was 11 years old, you know, I wasn't the kind of person that wanted to practice and hit ball after ball after ball. I wasn't consistent enough. When I came to Robert, he was like, "Okay, this girl has to hit ball after ball after ball until this basket is finished." When I looked in the basket, there were about 1,000 balls in there. My eyes were pretty big when I saw that basket.
Q. If someone in your early years said at Bollettieri, "Not to worry, you're going to win Wimbledon at a teenager," what would you have said to them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, first of all, I'd tell them I'd try, and that it's also my dream so I'll work very hard in order to do so. But, you know, I don't want to predict things when things aren't predictable.
Q. I read somewhere that when you first went to Bollettieri, it was difficult because there were some girls that made fun of you and you didn't really fit in in your dorm and all that. Do you remember those days, just how far removed you are from that that you're the most popular girl in tennis?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the reason for that was because I was young and I was staying with girls that were much older than my age. It was difficult because the academy didn't have that many girls that age so young staying in a dormitory. If there were any, they would be staying with their parents, of course. But I didn't have a choice, so I had to stay in a dormitory.
I was just put in with girls that were a lot older, more mature, of course, had many more interests. I mean, I'm 10 years old, and these girls are 16, 17, so that's a big difference. It's like me staying in a dormitory with a 10-year-old. But, of course, I wouldn't be mean to them like they were to me (laughter).
Q. What did they do to you? Did they make fun of you, pick on you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it wasn't really about that. It was just that I was just seven years younger than them. That's basically it. I mean, they have totally different interests. They do totally different things. I mean, my bedtime was four hours earlier than theirs was, that's one thing. That's already a big difference.
Q. Have you spoken with your mother yet?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. She's still flying, yes, on Jet Blue, the TV. I hope she knows that I won.
Q. How important is No. 1 to you, becoming No. 1 in the world?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's very important. I mean, I thought Wimbledon was just my dream to win, and now, of course, my goal is to be No. 1 in the world.
Q. You talked about how you don't want to change. Obviously, the demands on you, both tournaments and everything, will increase. How will you handle those demands, the increasing demands you're going to face? In terms of your schedule, is there any chance you'll be looking at coming to Canada after all and playing in Montreal?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: To tell you the truth, I know that things will start coming up, many more people will want to start getting involved. But I just want to keep my head cool and I want to leave the people that take care of this to them because I'm not into it really, that business. I just go out and I just play tennis.
But I'd love going to Montreal, but right now I don't think that's on my schedule from now on because I thought I'm going to play LA, then San Diego, then I was going to take a few weeks off just to work hard before the US Open.
But we'll see. I mean, you never know what could happen.
Q. It could change?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It could. You never know.
Q. Have you ever had to work on the mental side of your game or has that competitive spirit that we've seen this week always been there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's always been there. I've just always been a competitor. I've always wanted to compete and I've always wanted to win. No, I never really practiced that.
Q. No coach has ever said to you that you have to work on that side of your game, mental side?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Never.
Q. You said that you were only borrowing it for a year, the title from Serena. Do you not feel that you can dominate, for five, six, seven years like Navrátilová?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I sure hope so, but I'm not going to think what's going to happen a year from now. I just won this title. I'm very happy. I don't want to think what's going to happen a year from now.
Q. This was a tournament of many comebacks: Sugiyama, Davenport, today 4-2 in the second set. Which one has been the most difficult for you psychologically, mentally, and which one will you remember more?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think every one has been very hard. I don't think there's a pick between those matches. I was down. I lost the first set with both Sugiyama and then Lindsay. That was, of course, difficult. But against Lindsay, I think that being down a set, this is the semifinals, winning it, being in the Wimbledon final, this was pretty amazing. But I don't think there's one to pick.
Q. Should the rest of the tour be afraid of you with the confidence you're going to gain from this?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't want to think about what the tour will think really. I just go out. Doesn't really matter who it is. Somebody from the tour, somebody not, I just want to go out and I just want to win.
Q. You said you were in tears last night. How bad did you feel? Did you think you ever might not be able to play today because you felt so sick?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, usually I get sick starting with a sore throat. So when I got a bad sore throat, I was like, you know...
I never thought about me not playing, but I knew that it's not a good sign when you have a sore throat and you think you're going to get sick.
Q. Andy or Roger, who do you think would make the perfect date for tomorrow's ball?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think both of them have a girlfriend, no?
Q. Briefly going back to when you first came to America, I want to tell the story right and I'm a bit confused. When you were seven, did you have a place secured in the Bollettieri Academy?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.
Q. Was that when you were nine that you got in there? How did those first two years in America go?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, we arrived there, but nobody knew that we were going there, so we just arrived. Of course, we asked if I could play there. The coaches saw me, then Nick saw me, then IMG got involved.
Q. So you basically had to prove yourself from the time you were seven that you deserved a place in the academy?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, yeah, if that's what you want to call it, sure.
Q. Between your talents and other things, what do you consider your most significant attributes? What is your greatest thing? Is it mental, physical, dedication?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Mental. I'm just a very tough person when I go on the court, and I really don't want to lose. I mean, of course, there's not every day where you're going to win. But I'm that kind of person that I just love to win and I want to fight. You know, if you lose, I love to learn from my mistakes and I'll learn next time.
Jul 20th, 2004, 01:11 AM
Thaks for al those interviews!
Jul 20th, 2004, 01:30 AM
Thank you again Andrew!
Jul 21st, 2004, 04:29 PM
I think it is easy for people who don't play the game to forget that tennis is a game where you only get one chance. The thing I remember most about it is the heat. It seems impossible to hold serve, and then when you do you are facing a serve.
if you manage to win a point, before you know it it has slipped away again.
Maria says it is a mental game. Perhaps this is true. perhaps you are really alone out there, but ... when you win you know it is a game of tactics and that there is a lot more to it than just the physical side of chasing down the ball, no matter how impossible the chances seem to be of returning it.
Thanks for your honesty in this interview. i hope you know that you words will be analysed by your opponents who will be looking for any secret admission of weakness, and will pounce upon it with glee and use it against you next time they face you.