View Full Version : Wimbledon 2005 interviews

Jun 21st, 2005, 02:54 AM
Source: http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/news/interviews/2005-06-19/200506191119186353645.html

Sunday, June 19, 2005

THE MODERATOR: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for coming to this pre Championship's press conference on a very sunny day. We hope we're going to get another 13 of them. Keep our fingers crossed.

Great pleasure in presenting the Wimbledon ladies' champion of 2004, Maria Sharapova. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Maria for coming today and also for what you've been doing for us. Thank you very much, indeed.

Who would like to ask the first question?

Q. How does it feel walking through those gates for the first time as defending champion?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Very amazing. Obviously brings back a lot of great memories. This was a very fun time last year. So coming back, a lot of memories going through my mind, yeah. Coming back to this press conference (smiling)...

Q. Yesterday Serena said that she beat herself; you didn't do much. She threw the match away. What do you say to that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That match was a whole year ago, so, you know, that's past. We're in the present. I really don't want to talk about last year any more.

Q. Is it as emotional for you this time around?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's more ‑‑ you know, it's exciting because I've always had great success at this tournament. You know, every time I come back, it just feels like a special place ‑ especially winning it. You know, getting back out on the courts and practicing, I just enjoy it whenever I come back here.

Q. Can you talk about coming back to Wimbledon as the defending champion, the No. 2 seed, versus last year when you were seeded 14th, not a lot to lose. Talk about the challenges of coming back here this year.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, obviously it's going to be a lot harder to defend than winning, you know, than winning it for the first time. I've heard that many times. Last year I was 17 years old, and who expected me to win? You know, this year I'm 18, I've had so much more experience behind my back, and I love the surface. Obviously, there are going to be more expectations, and that's absolutely normal for a player that's No. 2 in the world.

But I'm just going to go out and enjoy myself, not worry about anything else that's going on, and just have fun and just take it all in.

Q. Do you feel there's also some advantage because of the fact that you've done it and you know you can do it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Every time I step onto grass, you know, I feel confident just because I feel like, you know, it really suits my game. You never know what can happen obviously on a certain day. But I feel like I have a bigger advantage against a lot of my opponents and I feel really good, confident.

Q. What has been the highlight of the year since you won?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I won The Championships. You mean tennis‑wise, everything?

Q. Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think winning The Championships also meant a lot, just because, you know, the top players in the world are playing. They've had the best results in the year. And being able to do that, you know, I was so tired at the end of the year. I really thought I couldn't play another match, but I kept giving it all I had. You know, that was also a great moment.

Q. What do you say to those people who say that you make too much noise when you play?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, I can't really control people's judgments. It's really none of my business to control what people think.

You know, I just ‑‑ I don't really think about it. I've said this before. It's sort of an old story, so there's no big point talking about it.

Q. How do you feel about the news that there's a British stalker who has been banned from The Championships? Does that scare you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven't heard about that. I don't read the papers or anything.

Q. There's a report that there's somebody who tried to lunge at you before. Won't be here this year. Are you scared of stalkers in general?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I have five bodyguards walking around with me all the time. I feel secure. I'm always surrounded by people. You know, I feel safe, so...

Q. Any player who is your biggest threat this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: There's not one in particular. I think the level of women's tennis is quite high right now. I think a player from the Top 10, a player from the Top 20 can be dangerous. You don't see in the first week of a Grand Slam players having 1 and 2 matches all the time. You know, a lot of the matches are tough, you can face a tough opponent. You might have to play three sets.

But anyone can be dangerous. You know, it's really hard to say.

Q. Do you feel you're a better grass court player now than a year ago?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think just because you don't play on grass so much, you don't really have so much time to practice on it. I mean, after the French, I only practiced three days until I started playing first round at Birmingham. You know, it's hard to say if ‑‑

I'm a better player by itself, but on grass, you know, it's really hard to say without having so much time to practice on it.

Q. When you've had such great results somewhere and you come back, do you like to keep the same routine, do the same thing, stay in the same place, go to the same restaurants?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I'm not staying in the same place. I'm not really superstitious about it. But with restaurant‑wise, I mean, if the food's good and the quality is good, you know, I don't like to change. Last year I was eating at a Thai restaurant for 14 days. By the end of those two weeks, my whole team was like... "I want this, I want 57, I want No. 87." It was the same routine.

The reason I usually go to the same restaurants is because you know the quality of the food is good. You don't want to go to a different restaurant because you might be sick the next day. It's not really because I'm superstitious.

Q. Have there been any times this year in particular where you felt everything that comes with what you've achieved on the court has threatened to get in the way of what you want to do next, felt like things are overwhelming in any way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I've been enjoying everything that I've been doing. I've kept a really good balance between my tennis and other things that I do. Everything that I do off the court, I enjoy it, because if I wouldn't be enjoying it, I wouldn't be doing it.

I've always felt like, you know, whenever I do something else or I rest for, you know, seven days, even if I need to rest, I always miss going back on the court and I always miss, you know, the competitiveness out there.

So while I still feel it and while I still have that feeling inside of me, then I know I'm still on the right track.

Q. When you say "keeping a balance," there's no rules for any of this stuff. How do you decide whether you are keeping the right balance? Who do you discuss that with or is it just an instinctive thing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, you must have that feeling inside. You must realize, you know, what your priority is, you know, how much time you can spend on one certain thing.

Obviously, I have an amazing team around me like, you know, that can help me with those things. I have my parents, I have my managers and everyone else. You know, I just do what I have to do. And if I enjoy, you know, that's why I do it. And if I don't, I say, "I don't want to do it."

Q. Could you talk about the role Robert Lansdorp has played in your development as a player and the role he plays now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, Robert has never really traveled with me. But I've always considered him as one of my coaches just because, you know, when I was young we came to him and, you know, we always come back. He's a character, but he's taught me a lot about the game. He's had so much experience with past players. When I came to him, I was about 11. You know, I would get bored after hitting four balls in a row in one corner, and he made me hit 100. So he taught me that patience and the consistency and the drive, and I guess that determination in your mind that you have to be able to hit 100 balls in order to win one point.

Q. He says you're one of the first people that ever gave him credit. Can you talk about that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, if I feel like someone has played a part in my career, then why not give them credit? I mean, you know, there's obviously ‑‑ if I don't feel like someone wants to get credit for doing nothing then, you know, there's no point talking about the person. But Robert's played a big part in my career and I don't see why I shouldn't give him credit for that.

Q. How do you feel about seeing that huge thing at the end of Wimbledon High Street?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's funny (laughter).

Q. What is your reaction? Do you feel kind of strange seeing it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I didn't even know until I walked down to the village. I got halfway down the street and I was like, "Whoa." It hit me. I was like telling my dad, "Do you see that?"

He's like, "What, what, I don't see anything."

I'm like, "Hello, how can you not see anything?"

But I didn't know anything about it till I saw it. It was surprising.

Q. Going back to the stalker issue, the fact that there is this threat since you won Wimbledon last year, does that kind of bother you as you're walking around? You seem to walk around quite freely.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I do. Like I said, I'm always around someone. I'm always with somebody. I always feel safe. If I was worried every step I was taking, I don't think I would be walking around. I always have bodyguards around me wherever I feel I need them.

But I'm never walking around alone. I always have a group of people walking around with me.

Q. Are you still studying?

Q. What are you doing this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: This year I'm doing Algebra II. Definitely not very fun.

Q. Are you doing exams?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: This year I'm doing exams, too. I'm finishing my last exam of the course. Before I finish this tournament, once I get home, my mom has to see the exam finished. If she doesn't, I'm in trouble (smiling).

Q. Can you talk about the dress you will be wearing during this fortnight.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's ‑‑ how do I explain the dress? I would say it's a summer dress. It has orange details on it. It has a pleated skirt on the bottom. It's pretty covered on top. But the pleated skirt gives it a lot of wave. It's perfect for the weather ‑ if we keep this weather.

My shoes have 18 carat gold specs on the side of the shoes. That's something totally different. But it shines unbelievably. Hopefully can distract my opponents a little bit (smiling).

And my cover‑up, it's sort of a cloak, has gold details and a gold zipper.

Q. Do you have input into that kind of thing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely not the gold shoes. I can't go to the designer and say, "I want 18‑carat gold on my shoes." But I work with the designers all the time. The process is, you know, we're already working on next year's Wimbledon. So, you know, we already know a lot of things I'm going to wear for the rest of the year.

But, you know, I work with a designer. Obviously I don't design anything for her. I tell her, "I want to wear this." I incorporate my ideas and the colors and what I feel like I want to be wearing at a certain Grand Slam and the colors. Those inspirations go to her and she comes back with a design and we work with it and I see what I like about it. If I want it to be more feminine or I want some more details, we go back and forth like that.

Q. How much would a pair of 18‑carat gold shoes cost if I wanted to get a pair?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I really don't think they're for sale (laughter). I think they're about $600 or $900, something like that.

Q. How many pair of shoes do you go through in a tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: On grass, probably one for every week.

Q. So how many pairs of gold shoes have you got?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have 10. Not that I'll be using all of them. But I think some of them will go through (indiscernible).

Q. How important is it for you to look really good on the courts?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it's not as important to look good; it's important to feel good. I've always loved fashion, I've always wanted to be different. You know, obviously before I was wearing a lot of things that other people were wearing. But, you know, now I'm working with Nike to have exclusive items that you'll just see on myself.

You know, I've always loved to be different. I've always loved to be creative with the things that I wear and have always loved, you know, to feel good in what I'm wearing. And it's very important, especially when you're on the court. If you don't feel like something is wrong, or, you know, too short or too long, something is big, you know, you just don't feel right, then obviously that can affect you.

Q. Back to the tournament. What is going to be the key?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was liking the dress (laughter).

Q. What is going to be the key for you to repeat here, do you think?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just go out there and fight and do the best I can. There is nothing in particular. I mean, I'm just going to go out there and enjoy it and do the best I can to win and just play my game. That's exactly the same thing I did last year.

Q. A lot has happened to you in the last year. How do you keep from growing up too quickly?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Unfortunately, I've had to grow up since I was about 15 or 16. You know, that's not a decision that you just say, "I have to grow up." It's something that comes naturally with your profession and your life and your career. It's something you naturally have to get used to. I mean, traveling around the world every single week, studying on your own, playing tennis, being away from your home, you know, you either adapt to it or you don't.

You know, if you do, you have to be considered an adult because I don't see too many, you know, a lot of teenagers traveling around the world, you know, competing, having to do schoolwork on their own. It's obviously tough, but you have to have that motivation. You have to be mature for your age.

But it's normal for a career like that.

Q. You say you're not too consistent. Do you have the same locker as last year? Will you do the same things at Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. The member's locker room doesn't really have specific lockers. I don't really ‑‑ I don't really put my stuff in a locker. I mean, if people want to steal my stuff, you know, then that's just their problem. I mean, there's nothing too valuable that I'm going to leave out there. I don't really use a locker anyway.

Except my shoes, that I'll probably have to. I'm going to ask the locker room attendant to get me a safe for those (smiling).

Q. Justine always said it was the French Open that she wanted to win. There was a nice story about her going to the French Open when she was 12 with her mom. Would it be fair to say that Wimbledon was the tournament you talked most about in your family when you were growing up? What was the vision of Wimbledon when you were little?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, when I was younger, I didn't really have a vision until I came here as a junior about three years ago. So once I came here and once I experienced the whole atmosphere, then from then on I just said, you know, that's my favorite tournament. You know, I never ‑‑ I mean, I saw the tournament on TV, but I never played on grass, I didn't know what it was like. So it was hard for me, you know, to say that it was my favorite until I actually got here and experienced the whole vibe of the tournament.

Q. Was it slippery the first time you stepped on grass?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I tell you, I was sore the next day. I was a junior and I remember practicing at just like an off‑court tournament. I think it was before, Roehampton, I would say. I was playing a junior tournament in Roehampton, and that was the first time.

Q. You talked about how tough it is traveling as a teenager. Is your social life totally sacrificed or do you ever get to have friends to do things?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I have a lot of friends. I mean, I don't have a lot. I have about three good friends, and that's more than enough. You know, they live in different parts of the world. I try to visit them as much as possible.

Obviously, it's not very easy. But, of course, it's very important that when I'm back home, I still keep a close relationship with them because I've known them for so long.

Q. How have your friends reacted to what's happened over the last year? Have they stayed the same?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I would imagine good friends would stay the same, and so far they have. Obviously, they're overwhelmed. You know, everything happened so unexpectedly, that with them we kind of laugh. You know, when we go shopping or something, before it was like, "Well, for Christmas I want that pair of shoes." Now I go shopping, "I'm going to get that pair of shoes now."

Just, you know, we always joke about it and we always laugh about it. We take it with good humor, with everything that's happened. But I still have, you know, friends that ‑‑ I believe it's good to have friends and keep the same friends that were friends with you, you know, before you became successful.

Q. How much does that help you keep your feet on the ground with everything you've achieved so far?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's very important to have a good team around you. I think, you know, having both of my parents very close to me and friends, as well, but I think your parents ‑‑ you know, my mom's my best friend. It's good to have that kind of team around you that you can look to when you're not having a good day that day.

Q. What about boyfriends? Do you have time for them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I have time, but I don't talk about them (smiling).

Q. Are both of your parents here with you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, just my dad.

Q. Is your mom relaxed about watching you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, she doesn't watch. She just says "Congratulations" if I win and "Just another match, who cares," if I lose.

Q. Will you be trying to ring her at the end of the matches again?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm going to take it one match at a time.

Q. How does it work for you? Do you like a group with you from tournament to tournament or do you need your own space to prepare best?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I'm a pretty independent person. So I usually like to ‑‑ I enjoy having time by myself. I don't like when I have sisters or cousins or grandfathers traveling with me. I mean, I always stick to the, you know, same amount of people. I have my dad traveling with me. I have my trainer, you know, my team, my sparring partner. You know, my agent goes to the big tournaments. That's all I need.

Just, you know, when I'm on the road, I make sure I'm concentrating on my tennis. When I'm home, I can have a team of 100 around me.

Q. There are many players who are buying dogs like Arantxa. Steffi Graf was traveling with a dog. Do you think it might be a good companion?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've been thinking about that, and I don't know, maybe when I lose my independence here or something, I'll want a dog. But right now I can't imagine traveling with a dog. That's a no‑no right now.

Jun 27th, 2005, 01:19 AM
Source including video: http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/news/interviews/2005-06-21/200506211119363495456.html

M. Sharapova - Day 2
Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Q. You could make an argument that your serve is the most improved part of your game over the last year. Can you go into some detail about when you really started working very seriously with your serve and how it's developed over the last 12 months.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I don't think ‑ I don't think my serve is as powerful as I would like it to get yet. But I think that's not just going out on the court and trying to serve big, bigger and bigger. I think, you know, it's also going in the gym and working certain muscles that will help you create a bigger serve.

But, you know, it's also very important to mix up the serve and, you know, to place it well. And I think I do a better job of that rather than have a huge serve. I don't serve, you know, consistently ‑ you know, I don't serve like maybe 105 average first serve.

But I think it's more ‑ I think I still need to work on the consistency. But I think it's always been about placement for me rather than a lot of power.

Q. What is the feeling to walk out on Centre Court for you as champion and how would you compare it to the feeling last year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was so amazing. I was just smiling. I usually don't smile when I go out on the court. You know, the people are clapping. You're just taking it all in. You're remembering last year. This is where, you know, magic happened, I guess. So it was just really good to feel that again.

Q. Did you feel it was a comfortable enough victory for you today? Were you happy with the way you played?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, first rounds you never know what to expect. You know, I played her three weeks ago on clay. It was totally different, obviously. The pace of the court here is a lot different. I think she struggled with that a little bit.

But other than that, yeah, I mean, I can get a lot better from here obviously. I did enough to win and, you know, pretty satisfied.

Q. I think your grunting may have reached record levels today. Do you think you were particularly loud?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You always ask me the same questions (laughter). Like I told you already, I don't pay attention to that, and I never have and probably never will.

Q. Can you talk about the difficulty in making a transition from clay to grass? Not many players have been able to win both. Nadal and Justine are coming in. Some people think Nadal doesn't have a chance. Can you talk about why it's so difficult to make that transition.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, because they're absolute opposites, I mean, pace‑wise, stability‑wise. The movement on the court is so different. On the clay, when you move side to side, you know, you have to be able to grip yourself because you're going to slide into the shot. And on grass ‑ and I think that's one of the problems that players have is, you know, good players on clay, they like the sliding, they like hitting their shot, they like sliding into the shot. And then when they change to the grass court, you grip on the grass, and you have to recover faster.

I feel better, you know, with the grip. I grip, and I feel like I recover a lot faster. And also if you hit high angles on this court, basically these angles are going to be like a short approach shot. And on clay they're effective, you know, if you put more spin on them. But here they just stand up and the point's over. And I think that's, you know ‑ if a person likes to play defence, like Nadal, he has a much better chance on clay obviously because clay, a big part of it is defence. And on grass I think you have to start the point off well and you have to be in control from the beginning of the point.

Q. You mentioned working out in the gym quite a lot. How intense has that been to improve your strength and power this year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, it's been ‑ it's been really important strength‑wise and, uhm, endurance‑wise moving on the court. You know, I'm a tall girl and I grew really fast in a short period of time, that was like two or three years ago. But it took me a while to get used to my body. You know, I still have to move a lot better. And, uhm, strength‑wise, sometimes I feel like my arm is like a swan's neck, it is so weak. But I'm getting there. I'm working on it. You know, I'm trying to find as much time as I can.

But, you know, it's hard during tournaments because you don't have a lot of time if you're winning or if you're far into the tournament.

Q. It's shaping up to be an interesting women's tournament this year with such good players. Would it mean more to you to win this tournament this year with the calibre of players who it looks like you'll come up against?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, without or with great players, I think it means a lot just to win this Grand Slam. Obviously, the competition's very high, and that's great because that's what the sport is all about. That's why I play, because I love the competition. I love going out there and having a player, you know, that has the weapons, that has a big serve, you know, whatever it may be to beat me. And I love going out there and challenging myself, you know, trying to compete and do the best I can.

Q. What is it like to play in gold‑trimmed tennis sneakers?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I just need some wings and I feel like I can fly off (laughter). It feels good. They're great shoes. I've been getting a lot of compliments. But everybody's offering me a safe these days.

Q. Did you check if any of the studs have fallen off?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, they haven't. They're pretty secure.

Q. The last time you were on that court was the end of the tournament, semi-finals and finals. It was a little different I would think from today. It was pretty chewed up, was it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it's greener, so it's a little more slippery.

Q. I mean, last year it was chewed up by the final.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right. Oh, yeah, of course.

Q. You could sense a great difference?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the first rounds of this tournament, it's usually a bit different. The courts at Aorangi are, you know, different because everybody has been practising on them for a week already, so they're very chewed up and the ball bounces faster and there are a lot more weird bounces rather than on Centre. There aren't as many bad bounces, but it's a little more slower and more slippery.

Q. Do you think this year will be harder to win than last year? Everyone's probably out to get you as defending champion and also it's maybe more competitive.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, of course. Everyone's trying to beat the No. 2 player in the world. It's absolutely normal. But I just go out there and no matter who I'm playing, no matter how hungry they are to beat me, you know, on the other side I want to beat them as well. So it's not like they're happy to go out and play me, you know.

But I love the competition. I love when, you know, people want to beat me or underestimate me. I love that because I love that challenge.

Q. There have been a lot of stories in the papers about the stalkers at Wimbledon. I know you talked about the issue on Sunday. I wondered today if it crossed your mind at all when you were on court?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not at all. It was the last thing I worried about.

Jun 27th, 2005, 01:33 AM
Source: http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/news/interviews/2005-06-23/200506231119535277926.html

M. Sharapova - Day 4
Thursday, June 23, 2005

Q. Would it be safe to say you were up for that one?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I definitely was. I knew it wasn't going to be an easy match. Mentally from the first point on, even though I was down 15‑40 in the first game, I was still mentally really tough. I just played great tennis today.

Q. You didn't let up at all, did you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't. You know, I focused really well. Returning and serving was a big key today. It's always a big key on grass, but I think I did that really well.

Q. In the second set, did you allow her to win that game or did you want to win it 6‑0?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I know how it feels to lose 0‑0, and it's not a good feeling, so I just let it go (laughter).

Q. What statement do you think you made with your racquet after the verbal statement she made about facing you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, that was a long time ago. She's grown up a lot since then. So it's not really worth talking about. It's just a matter of ‑‑ you know, it doesn't matter what happens off the court. It's just going out there and, you know, playing tennis, you know, playing a match.

So I don't really worry about what happens, who talks what. Everybody talks and everybody makes comments. But it's normal. You just have to go out on the court and just have to play. You know, the tennis does the talking all the time.

Q. How difficult did you think this match would be today?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I knew she got to the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. Obviously, grass is totally different. I don't think she's had as much experience on it as she would have liked. But it's normal for someone that's 15 years old.

You know, I think she still has a lot to develop in her game.

Q. Did you allow yourself to feel sorry for her?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. It's hard to feel sorry for your opponents. Unfortunately, this is an individual sport.

Q. Have you had words since those comments were initially made?


Q. Did you speak in the locker room afterwards today?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. We're in different locker rooms, because I'm in the members' locker room. Sorry. I'm not trying to brag, that's just a fact.

Q. Are you playing as you want to win the championship or you're just taking it a game at a time? Are you under any pressure to win it because you won it before?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, basically I'm taking one match at a time, but I'm giving ‑‑ I'm concentrating on every match. I think I played a lot better since I did in the first round. Obviously, first round you're going to have a little bit of nerves, you don't know what to expect. But, you know, I got a lot better.

Today was a much better game. Hopefully I'll keep improving because the tennis is going to get tougher. You know, you're going to have to play better in order to win.

Q. Is there any one of the girls out there that worries you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. There are a lot of tough opponents.

Q. You said you know how it feels getting shut out. When did that happen to you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, double bagel. You don't remember that?

Q. How did it feel?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, that was a long ‑‑ long time, not a long time ago. Actually, it wasn't as much disappointing as losing probably when you have like match points because you're just, I mean, like it can't get any worse, you know. And you just forget about it. And after that I came out and I got to the finals of Nasdaq. It was whatever. It happened. It happens. This is life, you know.

Obviously it's not great to lose 0‑0, but you play against the No. 1 in the world. Yes, you're a top player, but it just wasn't your day. Life goes on.

Q. On Saturday you're playing Katarina Srebotnik. I want to ask you what are your thoughts about this match and what you know about her?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've played her once a long time ago. I haven't seen her play much. But with every single opponent I play, I just go out and I just play my game. There's nothing specific that I'm going to go out and worry about something, you know, about her game. Just have to go and you just have to perform and just do the best you can. Serve well, return well. If you're on those two things, I mean, you have a big advantage on grass if you're serving well and you're returning well.

Q. So you're not scouting your opponents?


Q. You're obviously the champion here and potentially have more distractions this year than last year. Are you actually better this year at focusing and keeping distractions out than you were a year ago? Have you worked at that and do you find yourself better at it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's hard to work at it. It's not like you go to school to work on it (laughter).

Q. You've had a lot more. Do you find it easy to focus?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is it easier? You just ‑‑ it's hard to explain, because when you go on the court, I mean, it really depends on the individual. If you're able to block everything out that's around you and you're just able to focus on the ball and your opponent, then you're in good hands. But if you're thinking about what someone yelled in the crowd or the line call or the media or the photographers, then you're in trouble.

I'm pretty good, especially at this tournament, going onto the court and just paying attention to my opponent and the ball.

Q. Robert has always said that's one of your great strengths is your ability to do that.


Q. Has it been chipped away at all with the success of last year or have you found nothing has penetrated that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not yet. Not yet. Doesn't seem to be so. I've pretty much concentrated and focused really well when I had to. I see there are days when you concentrate better than others. But you never know really.

Q. Lindsay was saying it's hard for girls to be friends on the tour. Do you have any friends within the Russian camp?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm friends with Maria Kirilenko just because we're the same age, we have similar interests. I've known her since we played in the Juniors.

Q. It's difficult with the other girls, is it, apart from the Russians, to be friends?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think like Lindsay said, it's hard to be friends with someone that's going ‑‑ that might be your opponent in the next round. Obviously, nothing against any of my opponents. But, you know, it's difficult to go really, really good friends off the court and then going on the court and trying to beat them.

I mean, when you're off the court, it's friendly, but it's hard to become best friends with them. That's normal.

Q. On a technical note, regarding grunting, one of the problems is that someone who grunts, as you do, a number of others, is that it obscures the sound of the ball off your racquet for the opponent. The sound of the ball coming off the racquet conveys information to the opponent about how well or otherwise you've hit the ball. Those who grunt pretty loudly, as you do, therefore are putting the opponent at something of a disadvantage.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel like I'm in school now (smiling).

Q. What do you think about that factor, of it being a disadvantage to the opponent?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I get bored because that was too much information (laughter). I don't know. Like I've said before, I don't think about it. I don't know what it creates, what it affects. I don't know.

Q. It used to happen between Navratilova and Seles. Seles grunted. There was a famous match.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That was a long time ago.

Q. To what degree do you think the game might be helped if there were some nasty rivalries between players? You mentioned that the players can't be friends. But if it were even amped up a bit where there was some real bitterness between players, what effect do you think it might have on the popularity of the sport?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's hard to say when there are not a lot of those around. I mean, there are rivalries, but I don't think they're nasty or they're bad. I mean, I don't ‑‑ I don't really ‑‑

Q. Do you think the game would be helped if there were some?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Will it help? I don't think it would make a difference. It might make it more exciting for the spectators just because they know the two opponents hate each other and they want to see what will happen on the court.

Other than that, I don't know.

Jun 27th, 2005, 01:48 AM
Source: http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/news/interviews/2005-06-25/200506251119709510720.html

M. Sharapova - Day 6
Saturday, June 25, 2005


Q. A bit different to your first two matches out there today?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, a lot tougher I think. The score doesn't say much about the match. It was a lot tougher than it seemed. Even though I was up in the first set, thought that she was able, you know, to come up with some good shots and put me in difficult situations. But I was able to, uhm, serve well when I needed to, even though I wasn't serving quite well throughout the whole match.

But even in the second set, she had the opportunity to come back into the match. She had four breakpoints at the end of the match. I was able to hit really good first serves. That was the key.

Q. Heard you mumble under your breath, "The courts are slower." Are they that much slower than last year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't say that.

Q. You didn't say that?


Q. Must have been my interpretation of Russian.


Q. Your thoughts on that? Are they slower?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Today they were definitely slower just because of the conditions. But, uhm, the air is heavier. The balls don't fly as fast through the air. The previous days it was really hot, so the pace of the shots we're going through the air a lot faster. Today the situation's different.

But just have to adjust.

Q. How would you compare your thoughts after week one of this year's tournament with being through week one last year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think last year I was really excited to be in the second week of a Grand Slam, and this year, I expect myself to be in the second week of a Grand Slam. So, of course, it's different. But I still feel really happy to be in the second week of a Grand Slam, no doubt about that.

Q. Were you surprised by the challenge that she gave you today or were you pleased because your first two rounds were very easy and you have tough challenges ahead of you. You needed a good workout, didn't you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: For sure. I enjoyed having those tough situations where your opponent puts you in tough situations, especially in the early rounds. If you don't have those positions, you know, in later rounds you get to that point and, you know, you might be a little bit struck by it.

Like I said, it was definitely a tough match. Every single point, I needed to find a way to win it. You know, she can be a very dangerous opponent, especially on grass. She has a great grass court game, big serve, has a great chip, comes into the net a lot.

Of course, it's going to be difficult.

Q. In Japan we print stamps with you. All this publicity is helping you to climb to No. 1 of the world ranking?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Those things definitely don't help me to become No. 1. What helps me to become No. 1 is the hard work I put in on the practice courts. Not the stamps, that's for sure.

Q. Anything you weren't happy with today in terms of your game? You seemed to fly away at the start. A lot of the games after that were pretty tough?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I thought I could have served better at the beginning of the games. I was able to serve well when I needed to. You know, it's better to start off serving well and getting an advantage rather than waiting for the whole game and being down a breakpoint to start serving well.

A lot of that had to do with the conditions. Maybe I thought I needed to go for a little bit more because, you know, the serve didn't have as much penetration as the other days. You know, it's all right. Still got through it without serving great.

Q. Pretty satisfied then?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, pretty satisfied.

Q. Going to be tougher to defend it than win it, isn't it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course. It's never easy. I'm just excited to be a defending champion rather than, you know, losing first round last year and coming here.

Q. What about the atmosphere out there? Did you feel it took a little while to warm up? Usually a lot of excitement when you appear.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, atmosphere's always great for me. I always feel excited to play in front of a Wimbledon crowd. But I try to block a lot of that out when I step out onto the court.

Q. What is the more fun? You said you came here last year not expecting to get into the second round. This year you did expect to. Last year was sort of a joyous journey into the unknown. This year you want to win it and you almost expect to win it.


Q. Does that remove some of the fun or does it make it more fun?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Every experience is a different challenge and every year is a different challenge. Obviously, last year I didn't have ‑‑ not a lot of people expected me to win the title, and I did. That was exciting. But it's also really exciting coming back as a defending champion. It's a great feeling to have, something that you'll always cherish forever.

But, you know, it's a different challenge, of course. Every tournament's going to be a different challenge, different opponent. But that's why I play tennis, because of these challenges. I enjoy difficult, different challenges, yeah.

Q. You're very good at blocking things out. Do you pay any attention to the rest of the tournament?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just my next round.

Q. You're not looking over here to see how Venus and Serena are doing?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I mean, I can look at the score board and see the score, but it doesn't really...

Q. Do you watch the men?


Q. Yes.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not a lot. I like when there are going to be exciting matches. But not a lot, no.

Q. What was your reaction earlier this week when Martina said you should focus less on publicity and more on tennis?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, well, you know, I pretty much am in control of the things I focus on. I feel like I've balanced that really well in the past. You know, I'm No. 2 in the world. And I don't think so far anything has distracted me.

It's hard to say. I don't really want to change anything right now because I feel really satisfied, you know, with how hard and how much I work on the court, and then what I do off the court. I'm still enjoying it. Like I said, if I wouldn't be enjoying anything that I did off the court, I really won be doing it.

Q. You're going to be playing the winner of Dechy and Bondarenko who play later on this afternoon. Can you share your thoughts with us on how difficult a match it might be?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think Dechy would probably be the favorite to win that match, but you never know. I played Dechy maybe once before. Actually, I played her on grass a few years ago in Birmingham. But a lot of things have changed since then: her game, my game. It's going to be a new experience.

I know a little bit about how she plays, but it's not really about how your opponent plays; it's about your game.

Q. Can you imagine it being the next step up, perhaps?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, always the next rounds are going to be tougher and tougher.

Q. Can you describe what you'll do this weekend in preparation for week two?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Rest, read. Nothing special.

Source: http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/news/interviews/2005-06-25/200506251119707780601.html

K. Srebotnik - Day 6
Saturday, June 25, 2005

Q. How did you feel about the match today?

KATARINA SREBOTNIK: I think she played very good. That's my personal thoughts, first of all.

I thought I played a very good match also. I served pretty well, and she was just returning unbelievable. And in first couple of games, I think only in the fourth game she gave me one unforced error, you know.

But apart from that, she was making no mistakes and she was playing very fast, very deep, and she was obviously very pumped, as you could see. So she knew probably that I'm a tough competitor. I've been playing well lately also. Had some good wins on the grass, and I was going confident into the match.

But, yeah, she was just too good. She had to fight for it, and that's what I'm happy about it, that I made her work for it.

Jun 30th, 2005, 02:41 AM
Source: http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/news/interviews/2005-06-27/200506271119887536658.html

M. Sharapova - Day 7
Monday, June 27, 2005

Q. Were you disappointed in a way that the second set wasn't a bit tougher today?


Q. The second set.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Was it tougher? No, the first set.

Q. Were you disappointed it wasn't tougher?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm sorry, I thought you said it was tougher.

No, I thought I picked it up from the first set. She was playing really well the first probably six games, and I was ‑‑ you know, I was making a few errors when I shouldn't have, but still felt like I was in it, still felt pretty confident on my serve. You know, I felt like if I could put some pressure on her return, then I'd get a break, serve it out. That's exactly what I did.

Second set, I just didn't make as many errors and was getting better and better.

Q. Do you feel generally that your game is progressing through the tournament the way you'd like it to?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, especially in today's match. As the match went on, I think I played better and better. I played a different opponent than the round before, a little bit different ‑ not as big of a serve, but more consistent.

But overall, yeah, playing better.

Q. Can you compare to last year when you were here, do you feel you're playing better now? How are you feeling in terms of having done what you did last year? Is it different?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's so hard to compare it to last year because last year I was in a totally different situation. I was happy to be in the second week of a Grand Slam. This year I'm expecting myself to be in the second week of a Grand Slam.

It's hard to say. But overall I'm really excited to be in the second week of a Grand Slam, of course. You know, no matter how I do, I'm excited to be in the quarters.

Q. Do you look at the performances of the other women? Serena and Justine have gone out. Were you surprised by those defeats? Where do you see the danger now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just try to focus on my next opponent. You know, obviously those are big upsets. But, you know, I mean, that happens in tennis. Like I said, the level of tennis is really high right now. You know, players like that can cause upsets. You just have to be on top of your game and be able to tough it out every single match. You've got to be mentally and physically ready for it.

What was the second question?

Q. Where do you see the danger now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I don't know if Petrova is winning. I think she was 3‑Love up. I don't know if she won. Did she? I don't know. What's the score?

Q. She's not won yet, 4‑2 up.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Played her a long time ago. Big game, big serve. You know, obviously it's going to be another tough match. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. How much better do you feel your game is this year than it was last year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Game‑wise, I think I'm a much more experienced player. You know, technically‑wise, I don't think there was a big need of improvement. But I think experience‑wise and confidence‑wise, in certain situations I feel like, you know, I've been in that situation before, and I feel like I manage it a lot better.

Q. Do I understand you made a complaint about photographers taking your picture when you're practicing on the practice courts? Is that not part and parcel?


Q. You haven't made an official complaint. We understood you've made an official complaint about having your picture taken on the practice courts.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's something new to me. I learn something every day over here. God (laughter).

Q. Everybody talks about the second week of Wimbledon. They up the ante. Does that just happen naturally or do you walk out and go, "Second week of Wimbledon, I better get serious now"?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, every Grand Slam is like that. I mean, Grand Slams are for two weeks. Once you're in the second week, mentally and physically you've got to be a lot tougher. You know, matches from now on are going to get tougher and you've just got to be ready.

But overall I'm excited to be in the second week of a Grand Slam. Great opportunity to go even further.

Q. You can't concentrate about the next match straightaway. Do you go away, forget about your next match until tomorrow?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess you just try to rest, you know, try to ‑‑ I go in the locker room, go talk with my team, see what I think I need to improve for the next match. For the rest of the day, I basically forget about tennis and just relax, you know, try to forget about it as much as I can. Because, you know, once you're on the tennis court, you've got to give it all you've got out there.

Q. Do you find the British people here at Wimbledon quite supportive of international players? Should London win the Olympic bid, would this be a good place to host the event?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the English people are really ‑‑ are really excited about the English, that's for sure. No doubt about it. But it's great. It's normal, I mean, when you have so much support going for your country and for the people that play for it. Obviously, it's very important.

I'm actually running for the Moscow bid, so I don't want to give you guys any credit (laughter). I don't know. It would be exciting either way it goes. Every Olympics is amazing. Hopefully I can take it home.

Q. Do you think Wimbledon is a good place to host a tennis tournament for the Olympics?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it would be amazing. I don't know if it would be on grass. If it will be, yeah, of course. For me, it would be great.

Q. It's said the courts here are playing slower and slower. Is that true? If so, does that place an extra task upon you to adapt?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, I haven't really paid too much attention to it. Now as I think about it, maybe it has a little bit. I don't know what that has to do with the height of the grass or whatever. I have no idea. You know, if it's slower for me, it's slower for my opponent. There's not too much you can do about it. I'm not going to go and cut the grass during the night.

Q. A year ago, saying you were thrilled to be in the second week, now you expect to be. Does that make the whole thing a little less fun and more job?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it doesn't make it more of a job. But, you know, I kind of expect myself ‑‑ I go into a tournament and, you know, sort of expect myself to be there for a longer period of time. You know, it's normal now.

I mean, it's still a lot of fun. I enjoy it. Of course, every single match I go out there and I give everything I've got just because I enjoy it. I love being out there. I love competing, especially here.

Q. Less of an adventure?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Less of an adventure? I don't know. It's hard to say. It's totally different. That's why I don't know. It's hard to say what the difference is. I'm not making sense, am I?

Jun 30th, 2005, 02:50 AM
Source: http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/news/interviews/2005-06-28/200506281119973339472.html

M. Sharapova - Day 8
Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Q. The museum here are keen to get one of your outfits, including your trainers from this year. Would you be prepared to donate them? If so, why is it important for you to do things like that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think I will. I have a lot of those dresses, so I don't think it will be a problem.

Q. And the trainers as well.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. The little shorts?

Q. The shoes.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: The shoes. The shoes, I might have to take the gold away (laughter). No, yeah, sure, I'd give the shoes. No problem.

Q. You like going down in Wimbledon history?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, for sure. To be in that museum, obviously it's a big achievement.

Q. How different has the road been back to the semifinals for you this year versus last year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, it's been different, but it's also been different because experience‑wise I feel like I'm a much more experienced player this year. In certain situations, you know, last year I would have gone for my shots; this year I feel like I've been in this situation before and I feel like I know what to do.

It's different, but I'm also expecting myself to know what to do in these certain situations.

Q. How would you compare the confidence level you have right now versus exactly a year ago when you were also in the semifinals?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, like I said, last year I was just thrilled to be in the semifinals. And this year, I mean, you know, I'm sort of expecting myself to be in the second week.

I mean, I'm thrilled, of course. When you're in the second week of a Grand Slam, of course you're confident and so are the opponents you're going to play, so it's normal.

Q. If you play Venus Williams, what are the differences and similarities in your games?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she has a big game, you know, is a great fighter. So every time we play we always have really tough matches. Just have to go out and battle it out and see who can come out and win the fight.

Q. What about styles? What gives you the most trouble and what do you most like in playing against her?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, every opponent is so different. You know, you just go out. It's hard to focus on your opponent. I mean, I only played her a few times. I think the main thing is she's a good athlete, she gets a lot of balls back and she's very tough. So, you know, it's just mentally you've got to be ready for an extra ball.

Q. Were there certain points during the match today that you felt experience you talked about a few moments ago really manifested itself? Where did that come to bear?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, especially when I was down a breakpoint, I told the ball to hit the net and roll over. That's what comes with experience (laughter).

I think in the past year it's been really important for me, you know, to learn from different situations, you know, either it's a winning situation or it's a losing situation. I've been able to bounce back from the losing positions and learn from them.

So I think, you know, maybe when I'm down or maybe when it's close in the match, I feel like I'm still in it. I don't feel like I'm letting down. Mentally, I'm still really, really tough. A lot of girls, the reason why when it gets to 4‑All, we're holding serve, I feel like I'm mentally tougher out there and I mentally can play, you know, two more good games to finish off the set.

Q. If the net cord had gone against you, do you think you'd handle that sort of thing much better now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's hard to say. I mean, obviously it would have been a totally different story. It would have been back on serve. Why talk about it? It went the other way, so...

Q. Andy Murray was saying yesterday as he came off he had a marriage proposal. Have you ever had that experience yourself?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: God, there's so many answers to give you guys. I don't know what to choose from. I mean, yeah, there are a lot of signs. Not too many here, not at Wimbledon. At other tournaments, there are a lot of signs, "Will you Mary me, Maria?" It's like, "Will you jump off a bridge?" The same thing.

Q. Are you disappointed with the reserve that the British men are showing?

THE MODERATOR: Do we have a tennis question, please?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Are you from The Sun?

Q. Are you disappointed at the reserve that British men have shown?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think he asked you about the tennis questions. Let's go on with the tennis questions.

Q. How did the experience of playing Serena last year help you for a situation facing Venus this year? Is there any comparable element to it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it's a totally different situation. You know, last year I think what happened me last year is when I played her at the Nasdaq. That was the first time I played her. I was a bit unsure of what to expect. And just physically, she's a lot stronger than me.

When I went into the Wimbledon final last year, I felt like a much ‑‑ you know, I felt like I was in that situation where I saw Serena across the net. It was a bit of a ‑‑ you know, it wasn't like a new situation for me. I've been there, plus I played really well. So if you add those things together and you win, then you can't beat that.

Q. Of the matches against Venus, is there anything that stands out, a moment that you will focus on as you approach playing her this time?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the main thing is just to be mentally tough. It's going to be a big battle, and that's all. You've just got to fight. That's the only thing you can do.

Q. If you say you're kind of expecting yourself to be in the semifinal this year, does that mean this year it's not so much of a fairytale for you? Is that tennis enough?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You're trying to get some attention in here, aren't you?

Q. No. Just asking some questions.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: All right. I'll give you some answers. What was the question again?

Q. If you expect yourself to be in the semifinal this year...


It's a different situation because last year, you know, I wasn't expected to be in the second week of a Grand Slam. It was obviously something new to me, something really exciting. You know, when you get to the semifinal of a Grand Slam for the first time, it's overwhelming. At 17 years old, you're really excited about it.

In a year, I was in the semifinals of Australia, quarters of Roland Garros. You know, coming here, I feel like I'm, you know, being consistent. And it feels good in a way, but it's also very exciting.

You know, I'd rather be in the second week than lose in the first round and be excited about that.

Q. There's an interesting interview with Venus' dad on the TV which said that tennis should never be the No. 1 thing in your life. He said that to the girls in their career. Should be God, family, tennis, then business. Is that a philosophy you agree with, that tennis shouldn't take over your life?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I don't think tennis is my life. It's my career. It's what I've done since I was younger. That's how obviously I made money. But it's not my life, for sure. There are a lot of more important things in my life. Family, health. If you have those two things, then, you know, tennis is just something way on the bottom.

Q. He says his girls have got to enjoy it as well, which is a key thing with you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, if I wouldn't be enjoying it...

I'm that kind of person, whatever it is ‑ tennis or writing a paper or something. If I wouldn't be enjoying it, I mean, if it's something necessary I would do it, but if it's not, I say, you know, get it out of here.

Q. The dress you're wearing now is a very classic. You've worn a lot of dresses in your career. Is this the nicest one, even though there's limitations because of the white?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, at Wimbledon, all my dresses last year, my dress was very simple, but it was very classy and elegant. And this year I feel like it's old style, like I feel ladies ‑‑ I see pictures on the walls of other players here around the tournament, and I see them wearing, you know, those pleated skirts and some details in the front. It makes me think back of the days.

You know, whenever I think of designing a dress or having inspirations for Wimbledon, it's always about, you know, tradition and elegance.

Q. Have you worn this one all the way through or did you change at any point in this tournament? Do you have two variations of this dress?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, the same dress.

Q. The let cord point went in your favor, but it switched, I don't know, six or eight inches and went from an out ball to an in ball. When that occurred, what went through your mind? Did you say, "Thank God, the stars are with me"?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I thanked the fairy for taking the ball and bringing it over the net.

You know, this is tennis, and that's what happens. Sometimes it will go over and sometimes not, and you end up losing the match. Today it went into my favor.

Q. Mary Pierce is still in the match against Venus. If it were Mary Pierce that you'd face in the next round, can you describe what sort of match‑up that might be?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I've always had really tough matches with Mary. I played her ‑‑ last time was in Rome on clay. You know, that's a bit different. You know, she's been playing really well, playing with a lot of confidence. She has a big game, as well, big serve, can definitely attack her movement. But otherwise it's still going to be a very tough match.

Andy Mac
Jun 30th, 2005, 01:07 PM
hha that last one was funny....thanks mate:yeah:

Jul 1st, 2005, 12:05 AM
Cheers andrew they were great!

Jul 2nd, 2005, 03:04 AM
Source: http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/players/wtas961.html

M. Sharapova - Day 10
Thursday, June 30, 2005

Q. Has it occurred to you that the reason why Venus Williams played better than she played in years today, in fact, probably the best she's played in her life, is that her sister Serena being out of the tournament made her conscious of the fact that she had to carry the flag for the Williams family and put her demons to rest and play her best tennis?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I don't think it has anything to do with family or anything like that. It was Venus out there. It wasn't Serena. I just played against a really good opponent. You know, I thought we played a really good match. Today it went to the better person.

Q. Did it surprise you how well she played?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. You can't be surprised in a semifinal of Wimbledon. Everybody's going to play their best tennis. Everybody's going to go out there and perform their best. It's absolutely normal.

Q. What did you think about your level of play?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I don't think I played my best tennis. But credit to her for, you know, not making me play my best. She had a lot of deep balls ‑ hard, deep balls. She was serving consistently big. On the contrary, I don't think I was serving as big. But I don't have as big a serve as her. I don't think I had a really high percentage. I don't know what it was, but it didn't seem like it.

Q. Was that a more physical match than your match against Serena in the final here last year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, yeah, it was a totally different match. I think the level of tennis was a lot higher today from both of us.

Q. A lot of running and defense. Was it exhausting?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't really feel tired right now. Maybe I'm mentally tired. But I think the quality of the match, yeah, we had a lot of long points.

Q. Was there a problem with the rescheduling of the matches?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no problem.

Q. What was the delay for?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, just because we were second match on. They were ready to play their first match. So when the courts finally got opened, you know, we were told that there's going to be a change.

The other two players were ready to go on court, while we thought we were still playing second match. We had about 20, 25 minutes to get ready, to warm up and get ready.

Q. You were both fully ready to go on, were you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, we were all dressed. We just needed to warm up. That's why it took 25 minutes.

Q. Up until today, you haven't really been pushed in the tournament.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven't been pushed (laughter)?

Q. You hadn't dropped a set.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right. But the matches were still not easy.

Q. This was a totally different level.


Q. Did you find that counted against you? Do you think maybe she was ready for a tougher match than you were?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I'm always ready for a tough match. It's normal. Like I say, it's a semifinal. You have to be ready for a tough match. If you're not, might as well not go on the court.

You know, like I said, it's just one of those days where she played a great match, and maybe why I do as much as I could have done.

Q. A lot of people are surprised she still has that in her. Are you surprised that she still has that kind of force and precision, that she can play like that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, if she's still playing out here, I think she's always trying to give the best that she can and always trying to compete and be better.

I don't think ‑‑ if she was on the court, I don't think she'd just want to go out there and not do her best and not perform well. I mean, why be here if you don't want to be the best?

Q. Can you at all compare Venus' level of play against you today to the Venus you played the two times previously?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, like I said, I think it was the best she played of the previous encounters. She wasn't making as many errors, and obviously serving a lot bigger and more consistently. You know, that put a little bit of pressure on my serve. And I wasn't serving consistently. So she had the advantage on the return and wasn't making many errors.

Q. What did you think when she missed that first match point? Did you think you had a chance to get back in?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. It was just kind of funny, because I thought it was absolutely over. I mean, I was almost saying hello to the person watching the match. So, you know, I mean, the whole court was open, she made an error. I guess the match is still continuing.

Q. You said it's important to hold on to what you have. What are your feelings now with the loss of your greatest crown?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I'm obviously very sad. I mean, you know, this tournament means a lot to me ‑ more than any other tournament. I guess there's many more years to come. You know, it's just one of those things where, you know, you want to win, but you can't.

Q. You'll return to hold up the trophy again on the final Saturday?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I will do everything I can, yeah.

Q. In the first set you were behind continually throughout that set. You had to fight hard to stay in the first set. You started off the second set down right away. It seemed like you maybe started going for more shots, making errors. Was there a reason that you found you started trying to do more? Her play was too good or you felt you had to do that much to be able to take control of the match?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, when I was down 5‑2 in the first, you know, it was just one break of serve. But she was just playing, you know, too good, I thought. And then I was able to break her back. The game where I broke her, she didn't make as many first serves. I don't know if it's either nerves or whatever it is, you know, to win the first set. But I felt like, you know, I still had the chance to make it even because she wasn't serving as well as she was in the previous games.

So once it got to 5‑All, you know, I felt good. Then once we started the tiebreaker, I just ‑‑ I was down 1‑0 and I'm serving and I made two errors that were about one inch wide. That's the way it goes with tennis. If I would have made them, you know, who knows what would have happened. We would have been back on serve.

Q. Was there any point in the match when you divorced yourself from the score and actually just enjoyed the tennis which was great?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I really try to do the best I can, you know, fight. I don't know.

Q. But did you enjoy the quality of the tennis?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, of course. When I came off the court, I knew the quality was good. But you also know that you lost the match, so it's hard to think that way.

Q. Looking forward, what are the things you feel you need to maybe improve a bit in your game or do differently in order to go a couple of rounds further?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think I need to be stronger. The stronger I get, the bigger my serve will be, the easier it will be for me, you know, to maybe hold serve and get more free points.

But at 18, I don't think it's possible to have a huge consistent serve, and I realize that and I accept it. I know with hard work and practice and repetition it will get bigger and stronger and more accurate.

Q. What about taking advantage of the big groundstrokes that you hit and trying to end the points a little earlier with volleying? Today she had success coming in at times. If you were able to come in and get more easy points with the volley.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you. Thanks for the coaching (laughter).

Q. How difficult was it with the rain delay to prepare with sort of eating, drinking, warming up, psyching up, that sort of thing?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was pretty boring. Not much to do. Just eat and wait around, read. I mean, try to walk around, but there's ‑‑ you realize there's really nowhere to go.

Q. Have you ever played in a match before where the balls just kept coming back so hard and deep and in as relentless a manner as it did today against Venus?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I've played really tough matches before, even in the juniors. It's hard to say because they're totally different opponents. I mean, you know, Justine is the kind of player that, you know, likes to play defense, gets a lot of balls back and waits for opportunity, you know, to go for a big one. Whereas, you know, Venus today was hitting, you know, big shots, big on the offensive. You know, sometimes that works and sometimes you're making every shot and you feel like you can make every shot from any part of the court, and sometimes you can make errors.

You know, it's different to say. But I have in the past, yeah.