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andrewbroad
Sep 3rd, 2006, 10:20 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
First round (Wednesday 30th August)
-----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. Michaëlla Krajícek, 6-3 6-0

Source: http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-08-30/200608311157060559250.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-08-30/200608311157060559250.html)
>>>
An interview with: MARIA SHARAPOVA


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That was a pretty devastating display of serving out there.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.

Q. I'd rather hear what you have to say about your quickness around the court tonight?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, I've been training pretty well the last week. But after having a couple days where you're not able to practise probably as much as you want to, you know, couldn't practise yesterday, couldn't practise two days ago. So, you know, that was a little bit different actually before a Grand Slam. I've never really even at Wimbledon, I've never really had that.
Going into tonight, I just wanted to make sure I warmed up really well, was moving around. That was going to be one of the most important thing against someone you don't really know, is just to play your game. I've been hitting them well. It's just a matter of going out there, figuring out as early as possible what I had to do.

Q. Is that fresh legs after two weeks off out there tonight, or are you really that much quicker than you were earlier in the year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, it's hard to judge my quickness based on this match. I don't think we had too many long rallies. But in the first set, I served pretty well. She was hitting some pretty big second serves, and I couldn't really get, you know, a clear rhythm out there. But in the second set I definitely felt like there were longer points and I found my rhythm a little bit better.

Q. That was about as perfect a first round that you played at a Slam, too.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.

Q. You can't have too many complaints.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no. I mean, it was definitely a good start, but it's only gonna get tougher from here. You know, just got to rest up and be ready for tomorrow, you know.

Q. Do you like having to play a player who might be a threat in the first round just because it forces you to focus early on?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, either way, I'm usually pretty focused because. I mean, I've had opponents I mean, San Diego first round was a really good example. An opponent I've never heard of before [Vasilisa Bardina]. She came out in the first set and just played some pretty good tennis. And that's you know, you don't expect that from lower ranked player. But when they come out and they play against someone that's, you know, top 10 in the world, they come out and they're free. They can just play some good tennis.
She's definitely been playing really well this year, so I knew I had to expect some good points.

Q. The women's draw seems so wide open right now. Kim not being here. Serena having a wildcard. Do you feel like this is your year, this is your time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, well, we can't say that it's pretty wide open draw just because Kim is not here. You know, still pretty tough. You still have most of the top players playing. Uhm, but, you know, I can't worry about how wide open or not open it is. All I have to do is just concentrate on my next round.

Q. I mean confidence-wise, do you feel like you're confident?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Like I said, one is I'm healthy, that's the most important thing. I haven't felt healthy coming into a Grand Slam in a while. And I've, you know, gotten some good matches behind my back. I got a title a couple weeks ago. Yeah, I mean, that's a definitely confidence booster.

Q. In terms of movement on the court, bone bruises gone, shoulder's fine, what can you do now that you couldn't do earlier in the year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I mean, I definitely couldn't train as much on the court. I couldn't play that many, you know, matches leading into big tournaments. I mean, I tried to do all the things possible. I tried to do all things possible when I was injured, you know, whether with the shoulder I couldn't serve a lot but I was still, you know, getting it stronger. You know, with the bone bruise I really couldn't put a lot of pressure on it for quite some time, quite a few weeks. So it was more like bike workouts and all that, you know, without actually running.
But, I mean, I've been able, you know before San Diego, after Wimbledon, I was concentrating on my fitness, you know, quite a lot. It was more important than my tennis for a week, you know. I was doing more of that than hitting the ball. I definitely think that's, you know, going to help me in the future.

Q. Are you expecting a call?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: With my phone? It's just a natural habit. I can't live without a phone.

Q. Can you talk about the dress. You hinted that you have a different fashion for J Wear.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah, I was. The whole inspiration for the night dress was Audrey Hepburn. I'm really inspired by her. I'm in a phase where I'm like watching all her movies. I haven't seen "Breakfast at Tiffany's" since like three weeks ago, then I saw "Roman Holiday," then I read some books about her. That's where the inspiration came off. It's classy, it's elegant. I love the neck of it. That was kind of my input towards the design. Yeah, all the crystals and everything. But, yeah, I'm very excited. It's one of my favourite dresses that I've ever worn. It's pretty cool. The day dress is a little different.

Q. And that's all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Huh?

Q. No preview besides that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The day dress?

Q. Yeah.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, it's not as exciting as the night dress, I'll tell you that. But it's kind of a lavender color, has some lace mesh material.

Q. How do you feel about being in New York? Do you get more energy off the buzz, or does it wear you down?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I personally love New York, and I love it even with every year I come back, I love it. First time I came here I was 11 or 12 years old, I couldn't understand anything about it. I didn't understand the hype. As I've been coming back, it's become one of my favourite cities. Just so much going on in each little town, has its own feel. That's pretty amazing going to Times Square, then going to Upper Eastside, it's crazy.

Q. Your serving today was up around 80%.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.

Q. Was it one of those nights where you felt, I can do anything with my serve I want to?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I actually didn't think I was hitting my serve big but I was placing it really well. That was I mean, like I said, with me, I think that's a big key for me, is consistently placing it, you know, placing it where, you know, I come up to the line and I know that I can place it there. I don't really think about how hard I'm going to hit it.

Q. Ten aces.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, that was probably one of the best service displays I've had in my career.

Q. What draws you to Audrey Hepburn? Why do you find her intriguing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I was in Anthropology I'll be honest with you. I was in Anthropology a couple months ago. I love all their books. I picked one book up about her and I read it. Yeah, I just thought that she was amazing. I didn't realize what she just did. She was just an actress, but, I mean, she was part of UNICEF, an ambassador for UNICEF, all the things she did for children in her life. She never expected to be the best at what she was, but she always put that effort in. Yeah, I just started watching her movies and reading about her. I go through phases. I'll be in another phase next month.

Q. You're in your Holly Go Lightly phase right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah. We'll see what it is in a couple months.

Q. I'm from Chile. They have announced you couple of years that you are going to play there. Do you have any plans about going to Chile really?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not currently, no. Not currently, no. As an exhibition?

Q. Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not currently, no, I don't.

Q. Only blip, you had two or three games in the first set where your service returning was not what you wanted. Are you concerned about that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it was just at the beginning, I just couldn't quite figure out I think her motion. She had missed the first serve, and I would try to put some pressure on her second but she came out with some serves that were probably 95 miles per hour second serves, which were pretty tough to attack. But I figured out I need to stand back a little bit more, maybe make her hit a ball, whereas I was just making the error on the return.
I mean, as the matches go on, as I play more, I'll definitely improve on that.

Q. I'm sure you can understand that there's a buzz in the tennis world about whether you and Andy [Roddick] are a couple. I was wondering if you could say if you guys are dating. If so, did you buy him a birthday gift today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is it his birthday? I had no idea. I have no idea.
You know what, I really don't talk about my personal life. And, you know, when two tennis players know each other and are friends, and are known around the world, there's people are gonna talk. That's exactly what's happening.

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andrewbroad
Sep 3rd, 2006, 10:21 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
Second round (Thursday 31st August)
------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. Emilie Loit, 6-0 6-1

Source (including video): http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-08-31/200609011157135656187.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-08-31/200609011157135656187.html)
>>>
An interview with: MARIA SHARAPOVA


THE MODERATOR: First question for Maria, please.

Q. Pretty easy out there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was, and so I had a little bit of a choke game (laughing). Second set.
No, I was really solid. I served well again, you know, until the one game. Tried to finish it off and hit a big second serve, and then ended up hitting a couple of double faults.
But other than that, yeah, I felt pretty good out there.

Q. Your serve is feeling particularly good for you right now, or is it all aspects of your game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, the serve has been good the last couple of matches. You know, I've been holding pretty easily.
But, no, overall, I mean, the points that I have got an opportunity to rally then I definitely feel like I am moving well and taking the opportunities when I get them.

Q. Do the double faults come from trying for too much on the second serve?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I hit three aces and go up 40/Love. Then I try to hit a second serve ace and then I missed another first serve and I just started thinking, and then I made another double fault.
But, you know, you live and learn.

Q. You're facing Elena [Likhovtseva] in the next round. Can you talk about her a little bit? Can you also perhaps comment about the great showing of this Russian contingent?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven't played Elena in quite a while, but she's a pretty solid player. You know, matches I've had with her have been pretty, pretty tough. I mean, I don't know how she's been; I don't really know her.
I haven't seen her play in the last couple of months, but, I mean, this is a Grand Slam. I'm sure she wants to win just as much as I do. Yeah, I got to take it as another tough match.
But it's definitely really good to see, you know, the Russians doing well. I mean, we've had a really good year this year. '04 was one of the best for our country. Hopefully, uhm, hopefully we'll finish it off in a good way this year.

Q. I picked up the New York Times this morning. Great picture of you in the sports picture. Picture of you on page 2. Another ad on page 10. How are you balancing this?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's not really my choice to put myself on the cover of the New York Times sports section. I don't really have a lot of control over those things. The only thing I have control over is my tennis racquet when I'm on the court. That's all I worry about, you know.
I love doing the things that I do off court. I enjoy them. They're fun opportunities, you know, for my career. But my passion is still on the court. That's why I can balance both things.

Q. I'm doing a documentary on the history of Argentinian tennis. Do you remember Gabriela Sabatini? I know you never played her.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No.

Q. What are your thoughts about her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't really see her play a lot, so I can't really judge on, you know, too much on her. But, I mean, she's done great things for the game. She's also had a pretty balanced career. She did a lot of... she was a great athlete, but also great as spokesperson for the sport.
Other than that, I don't really know; I mean, I've actually never met her before.

Q. Some of the players on the tour now, though, Argentine players?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know too many personally. But Paola Suárez, she's had pretty good results in her career. She beat me in the quarters of the French.
But the men are doing well, as well.

Q. Who do you match up better with, Mauresmo or Henin-Hardenne?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: As in matchup? As in have a better match?

Q. Who gives you more problems? Who gives you fewer?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think they're pretty different.

Q. Yeah.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: They have different styles of games, and it really depends on what court you play on, I think.

Q. Here, for instance.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I don't know. It's tough to say. You know, it just depends on how you're playing, what you think you're capable of, you know, your confidence. I mean, there's so many things that go into that. It's not just about how they're playing, yeah.

Q. Is there a key to your game that needs to click in strong for you to be able to win at the Open this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I mean, at every tournament it's pretty much the same, you know. Like I said, I haven't really come into a tournament feeling until now feeling great. You know, I've always had some... I've either had an injury coming in or I haven't had enough matches. This time I really feel like I'm coming in, you know, with confidence.
I did play a lot of matches a couple weeks ago. I feel healthy. At this point, I mean, I've realised, even though I haven't had a long career, that being healthy is probably the most important thing. You know, wins and losses, yes, they're great and bad. But at the end of the day, that's not really what life is about.

Q. What's the best you ever felt on a court? Of all the matches you've played where everything was working real good, just the best you've ever felt on a court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: There was never a match where you feel you've you did everything right. I mean, I've, you know I've had matches where I felt like I played really good tennis and still lost them, you know. So it's hard to say.
I mean, on grass, probably I feel like I play more, you know, more the "perfect" match in a way. The court is fast. You don't get to play that long of a point. If you're serving and returning well, you know the points are short and you feel like, yeah, you get the job done.

Q. Moving away from tennis, getting back to the fashion sense, the black clothes, the black around your wrist, you kind of played up the lavender dress today. It's very different from the black Audrey Hepburn dress. The little flower, ventilation. What was the thinking?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah.

Q. You're inspiring a lot of people now.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I am? That's good to know (laughing).
Well, the day dress, the back of the dress, it started at Wimbledon. The ventilation thing where the flower opens, that kind of debuted at Wimbledon. Nike wanted to carry that technology over to this tournament.
I wanted to incorporate lace in the US Open dress. They came out with a mesh material that resembles lace. It basically feels like lace. They added that.
And the colours, it's a little different compared to the night dress, so it gives you a little bit of that English, you know, bruncheon feel.

Q. Earlier you said still the most important is tennis, and that's in your career. So is this what tennis stars need to do, they need to kind of have this fashion statement?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I think everyone's different. Everyone has their own personal feel and what they want to wear and how they want to feel on court. I mean, I've worked with Nike for many years.
I mean, I love clothes-designing with them and giving them my ideas into what I want to wear because they want me to feel comfortable in what I'm wearing. It's a pretty fun collaboration that we have.
When I go on court, I'm sure not just me, but everyone wants to feel confident and feel good about what they're wearing. Little girls, you know, women, anyone. I mean, you don't want to feel bad when you're on court. You don't want to feel uncomfortable with what you're wearing. Yeah, that's the goal with everything that I wear.

Q. On the men's side, which Argentine player do you think has a promising future?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, God. This is like a pop quiz on Argentina. I don't really know. I don't watch. I don't concentrate on certain countries and their players. It's hard for me to judge someone, whereas if I really knew their game or knew them as a person, I would give you an honest opinion. But I really can't.

Q. Serena just beat Hantuchová. I'm just wondering, considering how little she's played, do you consider her a real threat to possibly win this tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, you can never underestimate her with all her achievements and what she's done. If she's playing the tournament, she's definitely ready to play it. You know, I mean, you can't let's see. Until I play her and see how she's playing, then I can't really give you an opinion.


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http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/)

andrewbroad
Sep 6th, 2006, 10:42 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
Third round (Sunday 3rd September)
-----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA [32], 6-3 6-2

Source (including video - is it just me who thinks Maria seems quite upset here?):
http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-09-03/200609041157400920359.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-09-03/200609041157400920359.html)
>>>
An interview with: MARIA SHARAPOVA

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Pretty clean?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.

Q. Except for the two games in the second set, you seemed to be in control.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I felt pretty solid in the first set. It's hard to come out there and feel great with the wind. Especially when you don't get a lot of practice the day before, you don't really... you can be playing really solid tennis, but then go out a day later on a day like this and not feel your best.
I was a little bit slow in the first game. I knew I had to step it up. She has a lot of experience behind her back. She's a very solid player. She's had a lot of good wins in her career. She knows how to play against top players. I expected a really tough match. I was ready. That little break in the first game of the second set was a little bit of a wakeup call, and I knew I needed to step it up.

Q. Next round [Li,Na] could be potentially very tough. She's playing at a high level.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.

Q. Runs a lot of balls down, hits with a lot of power. Just talk about that, playing her.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah. I've had a couple past meetings with her this year, and, uhm, you know, she's improving with every month. She's a very tough and solid player. Great mover on the court. Gonna make me hit a lot of balls, obviously.
But that's, you know, her game. I got to go out there and, you know, I've beaten her the last couple times. Just got to go out there and try to do the same thing and come out with a win. But, yeah, looking forward to it.

Q. A lot of people are talking about the emotions of watching Andre go out the last time. Talk about your own feelings, whether you watched it, what you thought.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Today?

Q. Yeah.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I did watch it. You know, I really appreciate people that not only do things, you know, in their sport or in their profession, but outside of it. And, uhm, he's just such an inspiration to so many people around the world, you know, with what he's done for the sport, for charity, just working with children. I really respect him as a person in many ways.
Of course it's really sad to see such a legend and such a champion come off the court, and know that was his last match and he's not gonna, you know, come back, be on that stadium again. But know that he has a lot of things to look forward to in his normal life. He's got children.

Q. Have you ever seen anyone who connects with fans the way he connects with them? It was a legitimate lovefest out there.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah. It's amazing. I mean, was it 21 years, consecutive years that he's been here? I mean, that just shows you the love of, you know for what he's doing. That's the passion that he has for it, you know.
Without the fans, I mean, you definitely won't see that. The fans have a lot to do with it. They can bring you from two sets to love down and help you win the match.

Q. Didn't seem like tonight Likhovtseva had anything to hurt you. I think she had four winners the entire match. Did you feel the match was in your court to win or lose?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, not necessarily. Uhm, you know, I don't really count how many winners or unforced errors she's making. I mean, I know she's got a lot of experience behind her back right now. I always expect a tough match from any opponent I play. I can't go out there thinking it's gonna be easy, especially in conditions like this. I haven't played in that windy conditions since probably I played Kim in San Diego. It was just a matter of adjusting a little bit.
Like I say, you're never gonna play your greatest tennis in these conditions. You got to adjust to the feeling of the ball, to the pace. The wind was just blowing in one direction. So on one side you were late, you know, going to the ball. On the other side, you're late preparing because the ball's coming hard at you.
It's not only just looking at what your opponent is doing, but also kind of telling yourself you need to move a little bit more and be smarter on your serve.

Q. Going into the second week, you've been in a lot of them, is the feeling once Monday comes, "Okay, now the tournament really begins, we've gotten past our potential bumps and everyone left is pretty good"?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Second week of a Grand Slam is obviously gonna be a lot tougher than the first. I mean, that's a no-brainer.
But, yeah, you know with every match you got to play better and better tennis to win it. You know, that's what it's all about at the end of the day.

Q. Speaking of charity, it's on TV that you might be auctioning off some copies of the black dress.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah, for my foundation. Yeah, I just launched my foundation a couple weeks ago. It goes towards at-risk children. You know, basically children that don't get the opportunity to do the things that they dream of and want to do. I mean, you know, I grew up wanting to be a tennis player. Never knew if that was gonna be a reality. I never knew if I could be No. 1 in the world.
You know, one of the greatest things about being an athlete and making money is realising that you can help, you know, help the world, and especially children, who I absolutely love working with.
Yeah, but I have on my site, I'm auctioning off, you know, my dresses and my equipment. Yeah, I'm working with my sponsors a lot, too, to do a lot of those things with charity.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports...
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I really want to emphasise one sentence from the above interview. This is a great quote with which to defend Maria against haters who accuse her of being a greedy "money-making machine":

"You know, one of the greatest things about being an athlete and making money is realising that you can help, you know, help the world, and especially children, who I absolutely love working with."

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/)
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/)
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/)

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/)

andrewbroad
Sep 6th, 2006, 10:43 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
Fourth round (Monday 4th September)
------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. LI,NA [24], 6-4 6-2

Source (including video): http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-09-04/200609051157479859453.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-09-04/200609051157479859453.html)
>>>
An interview with: MARIA SHARAPOVA

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you talk about something about the Chinese player, Na Li?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I've played her quite a few times already, but there are a lot of Chinese girls that are doing really well right now. Every time I go back to China, I see how tennis is developing in the country, and it's amazing how much effort and time they put into the development of programs, and to develop new talent.
So it's kind of... it's really cool to see a couple of girls coming out and doing well.

Q. Do you think Na Li can become [an] excellent player in the future?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely. She's doing better and better with every year. I mean, every time I played against her, we've had really, you know, tough matches. I always seem to be, you know, down a break once in a while in the first or second set. So I know that it's always gonna be a tough matchup.

Q. Can you just assess the strengths and weaknesses of her game. One of the things I noticed about her tonight was she seemed nervous, was spraying a lot of things. You seemed more control as a player.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I started the match a little bit slow. I rushed into things. I rushed into my serve and my return. You know, after 4-1 I thought I kind of relaxed and just made her hit an extra ball. You know, she was hitting some good balls. I mean, once she gets a good hit on it, she can rip the ball really hard.
You know, but I got a few unforced errors from her, when I got to break her, and then from then on I gained a bit more confidence, started serving better and took more time.

Q. Why are there so many Russian women in the top of women's tennis now? It seems like it's become almost a national sport.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's amazing to see it develop year after year. You know, after the success of earlier players, tennis became one of the popular sports. Now it's probably one of the biggest, with soccer and hockey.
So, I mean, you know, the tennis programme's enthusiasm of the young, you know, children and parents is getting bigger and bigger by the day. Everybody wants to play tennis, and catch an opportunity if they can.
They're all really hard workers. They aim to be the best at, you know, whatever they can be.

Q. You started off slow, you said. [If] you start off slow like that the next round, do you feel you have to sharpen up?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't feel like I can go into every single match and play great. There are going to be a lot of days in my career where I go out and I might start slow. But the good thing about, you know, the end of the day, I know that I won the match, and I knew that I figured out a way to beat her, you know, playing not great.
I mean, definitely wasn't my best performance so far in the tournament, but I, you know, know as the tournament gets going, I know it's only going to be tougher. Yeah, mentally, I know that I need to step it up.
But I'm happy I got through. I'll just get a good rest tomorrow and then be ready for my quarters.

Q. You've trained at the Bollettieri Academy in Florida.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uh hmm.

Q. I'm writing a story for [i]Sports Illustrated China about that academy, why it produces such great players. Can you talk a little bit about that, your experience there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: One of the greatest things, it's a great facility. It has everything you need in one place. You know, I wouldn't say the town is the most exciting in the world; it's actually quite boring, to be honest. But, you know, they try to get the best coaches in tennis, and all other sports, bring them to that one place. You know, Nick's been in charge of that academy for many years. You know, he's brought a lot of top players, helped a lot of players, especially mentally. You know, everyone's excited to get a couple of lessons with a great coach.
But, I mean, you have everything in your hands. It's become a little bit of a factory, you know. You have the villas, you have the dorms, you have all kinds of courts indoor, outdoor. You have a big gym, you know, all the things that you really need to be an athlete.

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andrewbroad
Sep 13th, 2006, 09:33 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
Quarter-finals (Wednesday 6th September)
--------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [27], 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (7/0)

Source (including video): http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-09-06/200609071157651798984.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-09-06/200609071157651798984.html)
>>>
An interview with: MARIA SHARAPOVA

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Tatiana said the thing that separates you from other players is when things get really tough, you step up your game.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I just enjoy the battle of it. You know, I enjoy those moments. I love playing tennis because I'm a competitor. I love the competition. I'll be honest with you, I don't do it just to go out on the court and practise and hit balls over and over. That's definitely not fun for me.
But I do it to be in, you know, those moments and try to succeed in them. I love it, yeah.

Q. Justine was saying the other day, and Amélie said today, that this has always been sort of their least favourite of the majors. They find a lot of the noise, the circus environment can sometimes be distracting. You seem to really thrive in this environment. It's your third night match. How do you take to this vibe?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you have to come into it prepared. You know that it's I mean, personally, it's my second favourite Grand Slam after Wimbledon. But I think I love the fans and I love that they're really into, you know, the match. They get into it, I love that.
I think, you know, when they start cheering for both and they bring that intensity. And fans really do get you playing well if you're not. I mean, they'll really get you on your feet if you're down, and they'll support you. You know, those real, hard fans. There are a lot of them here. Some are a little bit crazy with their drinking their beers every once in a while. But I love it. I'm prepared for it when I come here. It is busy. There might be traffic going in and out of the city. But other than that, it's fine.

Q. Speaking of preparation, you're getting Mauresmo. You haven't beat her before. She's obviously a big step up for you. Talk about the challenge she presents.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she's definitely the player to beat right now. Honestly, I don't have anything to lose going into this match. You know, she's No. 1 in the world. She's won two majors this year. She's got all the confidence in the world. All I want to do is just go out there and, enjoy the moment of it. And, you know, I've been in quite a few semis in a couple years after Wimbledon. You know, been there and gotten close in some. I look forward.
I mean, this is a new experience, a new opportunity for me. Hey, if I take my chances and just go out there and enjoy it, you know, I can come up with a win.

Q. Do you have to play her differently than you played her at Wimbledon?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, Wimbledon is different. I mean, I don't think I mean, I don't know, but I don't think she's going to be serving and volleying every single ball, as she probably did there.
You know, the points are a lot quicker there. I need to be patient, yeah, but I'm not just gonna go out of my way and change my game in order to beat her, you know.

Q. Our cameras love watching your father watch you.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm sure they do.

Q. Was it a big coincidence, right after he grabs a banana, you're grabbing a banana, right after he drinks water, you're drinking water.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is it a coincidence? Probably. I don't know. It's up for you to decide. You have the camera, I don't.

Q. Did you see him grabbing the banana or water?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Do I see? Well, if I'm looking at him, I usually see, yeah. Not blind, as far as I know.

Q. You just said you don't have to change your game. Obviously, you can't make radical changes to your game.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.

Q. You talked about the third set at Wimbledon, too, where you didn't necessarily feel like you played smart tennis.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.

Q. Thinking in the match against her is probably going to be critical so you're not making mistakes and she's not moving you around the way she wants to move you around.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just thought I had all the momentum in the world going into the third set at Wimbledon. I didn't use that to my advantage. When you're playing a top player that is confident, that's playing good tennis, I mean, if you don't take your chances, you should be getting your ticket. I mean, that's the reality of it, you know.
In tennis, you got to take your chances. And against top players, there are not going to be a lot.

Q. Could you take a moment and talk about the "I Feel Pretty" commercial.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: If you go on my website, I talk about it a little bit, actually. I wrote a few paragraphs talking about it. But, yeah, it was shot at Arthur Ashe Stadium and the Waldorf right after Wimbledon. It was a two day commercial. Yeah, it was pretty fun.
I enjoyed it because it was the first time I actually got my first Nike commercial. I've grown with Nike and I've been with them ever since I remember, ever since I was playing tennis. So it's, you know I've seen all their amazing commercials with different athletes. And over the years, I've been on their campus, and I've seen what they've done with sport and how they've just made athletes. It was just an honour for me.
They told me at the French, they had a lot of meetings after I lost at the French Open. They told me that, uhm, we're gonna do this. I was just psyched.

Q. Do you think it makes a statement about Maria Sharapova?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah. I, you know people talk, people have opinions, you know, about me it can be about me or even little girls, you know, they get bullied by boys in their school, you know, when they're pretty. It's all about self confidence. At the end of the day, in my sport, I got to go out and I got to win. That's what it's all about, you know. Just doing it.

Q. Speaking of that commercial, you start yelling your trademark shriek. Tatiana came in and talked about that. She's not sure that helps you win a point. Does it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I wouldn't know because I don't know another way, so...

Q. Do you know, are you conscious that it could bother opponents?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't worry about it.

Q. A few moments ago you said you've been getting close in majors, you've been getting deep into tournaments. Is there a little bit of frustration you haven't gotten past semifinals?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Honestly, there is no frustration. The only frustration there is coming off a match and realising the little things that you could have done differently, and things that were in your hands in order to win that match. But it has nothing to do with getting to the final or winning another Grand Slam.
I mean, the last thing I worry about when I go on court is trying to prove anything to anyone. I don't have anything to prove.

Q. Do you feel like maybe you're due then?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm due?

Q. Yeah.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: If God wants it, it will happen.

Q. You said you don't have anything to prove to anyone. What about proving some things to yourself?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, I do it 'cause, like I said, I love the challenge of it. You know, I love challenges in life, I mean, not just on the tennis court, you know. Most of the people outside, fans and people that go on to watch a match that might not even know anything about tennis, just see the challenges that you get on court, you know, the opportunities maybe you didn't take or the opportunities you took, you know the ups and downs in a match.
But there are a lot of it's not just in tennis. There are a lot of things off the court that we as athletes go through. I enjoy it, you know. I love waking up every single day and expect something, you know. If I work my butt off, I expect good things to happen. That's why I do it.

Q. Have you gotten any reactions from fans to that Nike ad?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.

Q. What have they said?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You mean while I'm playing or...

Q. On your website or emails or people you see out. Have people spoken to you about that ad, what it means to them?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Nike is getting a lot of reviews about it and I haven't seen them because it just debuted before the Open. But they're going to give me a lot of the quotes afterwards. But I've heard it's been pretty positive. It's sending out a strong message.

Q. Are people singing to you as you walk around?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I hope they don't (laughing).

Q. Do you sing that song to yourself when you walk around?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know what, I was dreaming of that song after we shot that commercial like there's no tomorrow. I could not I could not get it out of my head. Still sometimes I can't. Like when it goes on, I'm like, "Oh, no, here we go again."
When I showed it to my friends for the first time, when we got the rough cut, they're like, "We don't want to see it 'cause we're gonna see it way too much. We don't want to see it again."
But, yeah, it's definitely

Q. There are a lot of characters in the ad who sort of have that attitude. Do you get a sense that, "Get lost, you're too pretty?"

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Can you repeat that question, sorry.

Q. There are a lot of people that have a real put upon attitude that, "Oh, there goes the pretty girl."

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right, right.

Q. In real life, a person with your looks, do you get that from other people at times?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm not gonna hide from the fact that everybody that everybody's happy about when I win every you know, when I have my wins. I mean, there's I'm not gonna lie to you. There's definitely jealousy in our world, in our society today, not just for me, for others. But that's the things you have to go through, you know. The younger you are, probably the tougher it is to handle. But I've I honestly don't pay attention to that.
But that judge that says the pity, that's just hilarious on the commercial. I laugh all the time.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports...
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http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/)
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xan
Sep 14th, 2006, 06:35 PM
Thanks.

andrewbroad
Sep 14th, 2006, 09:52 PM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
Semi-finals (Friday 8th September)
-----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. AMÉLIE MAURESMO [1], 6-0 4-6 6-0

Source (including video): http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-09-08/200609091157831944671.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-09-08/200609091157831944671.html)
>>>
An interview with: MARIA SHARAPOVA

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What were you able to do differently today that you had trouble doing the last four times you met?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I thought I played really smart, you know. I wasn't making errors at the wrong times. You know, I started off the match really well. I put pressure on her. You know, I served quite solid and had a good percentage of first serves. I took my chances.

Q. After the Golovin match, I wondered whether one of the priorities for you today was to get your serve back under control.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was also very important to start off well and, you know, put that pressure on her from the beginning, let her know that I'm gonna be strong, you know, from the beginning of the match. And I did, you know. I got off to a really good start, took advantage of that.
You know, it was definitely tough to get broken that last game of the second set. But, you know, I came off, took a little break, and I just thought to myself that it's not over until it's over, you know. I was still playing good tennis, and I knew that I could win it.

Q. You got 75% of your first serves in.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.

Q. Did you take a little bit off your first serve?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah, it was a little gusty out there still today. It's pretty hard to try to go for the aces. You know, I made this is a big factor: I've been saying it's very important to be consistent and place the ball better, make sure to take a few miles per hour off the serve but better place it.

Q. After the strong performance of Mauresmo during the whole tournament, were you not surprised that it was such an easy match for you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You call a three set easy (laughing)?

Q. Two sets were 6-Love.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That just shows that I did some right things out there, you know. Against someone that's No. 1 in the world, you got to play smart and you got to, like I said, take advantage of the opportunities you get.

Q. What made you say to yourself, why was it so important?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Because the previous two matches have gotten off to such a slow start. Against someone like her, you can't get off to a slow start.

Q. How did you prepare yourself to do that? What did you do differently to play so well at the start of this match? Was it more mental?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I mean, at the end of the day, words are words, you really just got to go out there and do it. Sometimes you might be doing the same things, but against different opponents, on a different day it works out differently. Today I was happy that I was able it went my way.

Q. How important was it to keep her off the net? Even when she was coming in, you were passing her pretty well.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I will say that I came up with some pretty good passing shots at the right times. That's important. It definitely... I'm sure it made her think a little bit the next time she wanted to come in. I've been working on my passing shots for the last three weeks, so I knew that I was definitely ready to play someone that was coming into the net. I was ready for that.

Q. After the first set, did you think that you might be able to take it in two sets? What were your thoughts after that first set was so easy for you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I just thought I got to keep doing the same things. But I felt like my level dropped a little bit. I wasn't hitting the ball as deep as I was in the first set, and she was... I felt like I took a little bit off the ball, and she was just... she took I mean, even though I was able to hold until that last game of the second set, I didn't feel like I was playing at the same level I was in the first.
But, yeah...

Q. Do you feel like you've broken the Grand Slam semifinal jinx?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Doesn't mean anything to me.

Q. Really? It doesn't...

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've said it a million times.

Q. We've talked about this earlier in the tournament, about how you've probably gotten over some of the injuries that have bothered you all year. Does this give you more perspective on what you can accomplish when you're pain-free like this?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah. I got... it's just so important to be healthy in our sport. I mean, especially at a Grand Slam. To be able to physically be able to do it, you know, seven matches in 14 days is very important. You know, I'm very happy that I've been able to come into a Grand Slam. That's why I put such a big emphasis on that, saying that I did get some good matches in before this tournament; I am healthy.
And, I mean, yeah, you're gonna feel a little bit sore. You're not gonna feel 100% physically. Your energy level is not gonna be 100%. You're in the final of a Grand Slam; it's obvious.
But without having major injuries, it's a big help.

Q. Winning Wimbledon at 17, what were the expectations that were put on you after that? How much different of a player are you now than two years ago?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Honestly, I didn't really feel expectations from the outside world, more so just from myself. I won a Grand Slam, and I beat some top players, and I, after the couple first months, I felt like I needed to, you know, win every single match. That was I just needed to step back and tell myself, "That's not gonna happen. No matter how hard or how much you want it, it's just not gonna exist."
But, I mean, even growing up, I was 14, 15 years old, I was still I was always playing older girls, I was always playing with older boys, and I was beating them, and people always thought I was gonna be good. I didn't really, I mean, I didn't really think about what people thought at that point until I, you know, went on the court and showed my tennis.
I guess at Wimbledon, I was kind of feeling after I won it, I felt like I was actually that those sayings were actually true, you know. Before that, I was like, Well, you know, people can say whatever they want, but I haven't really done anything (smiling).
So that was, you know when you win a Grand Slam, you feel like you deserve the, you know, good things that people say about you.

Q. The Canon promotion was absolutely hysterical, the lookalikes to kick off the US Open. Was that a way to poke fun at your own image, to show your sense of humour about things?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely has a little bit of sense of humour. I don't, I mean, it's a good way to promote Canon. It was just a fun thing that I don't think a lot of people came up with before. So it was just something different.

Q. As a player, do you like the idea of a prime-time final?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah.

Q. Why?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Especially at the Open, 'cause the Open is all about the night matches. To have a, you know, woman, obviously the men, I don't think they have a night final, right?

Q. 4:00.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I support it. I think it's really cool.

Q. That was an important match for you against Justine at Key Biscayne. Can you comment just a little bit about that. What do you expect tomorrow's match to be like?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You mean the time I beat her in Key Biscayne?

Q. Yes.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, that was a long time ago. She was coming back from an injury. That was her first tournament.

Q. You beat her.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I mean, definitely. But, you know, I haven't beat Amélie in a competition match before. I beat her today. I don't have a great record with Justine, so, you know, I mean, it doesn't really matter. It's a new match, new opportunity. I know I've definitely beaten her before and I know I've done it, and I know that I'm playing good tennis and I'm confident. I'm looking forward to beating her again.

Q. Do you think for the final that you're going to have some more people come to see you play? Like your mom, will they be in your player box?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, my mom won't come, no.

Q. Against Justine, will this be the first time you go into a Slam match against her where you're confident that physically, if it gets really long, you can stay with her?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess we'll just have to wait and see. It's hard to say. Uhm, you know, she's a different opponent, and it's the finals. I mean, I don't remember how I felt physically going into the previous matches. I mean, this is it's gonna be a new day, you know. That's what it is.

Q. Australia was very long. It was tiring. As you said before, beginning of the year you weren't completely at a hundred percent health.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right. Yeah, well, knowing that I've played six matches and that I feel, you know, physically good, yeah, it definitely gives me the confidence that I can go out and beat her.
Even without that, even if I wasn't feeling, you know, physically great, uhm, or injured, I would still be in the final, still be excited about the opportunity.

Q. What was your thought process, what was going through your mind during that break after the second set?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of the first game? Of the third?

Q. After, sorry, the break between sets, before the third.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: What was oh, that I knew the match wasn't over yet, you know. It was equal. I had there's still another set to be played.
You know, I didn't think that I played a bad second set, you know. She just played a really good game to beat me. And if I could beat her 6-0 in the first, I could definitely do it again. There was no doubt in my mind.

Q. Davydenko said yesterday, he called you American rather than Russian. He said you're a passport Russian, but considered more American. Maybe that's a lot of what contributes to your popularity. Did you have any reaction to that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't see it. But when you spend more than half of your life in the States, you know, doing living and, you know, doing the things you have to do for your career, then, yeah, of course. I mean, I can't hide from the fact that I've lived here for so long.
But, uhm, I'm also not gonna lie to you, but I definitely feel Russian.

Q. Is there any chance you would play Fed Cup for the US?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, that's definitely not in my mind right now.

Q. Martina Navrátilová is retiring. What would you say her legacy is in the game of tennis? I know personally she's had an impact on you. What has that been?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: She's had an incredibly amazing and also long career. I mean, she's... to still see her out here today definitely shows how much she appreciates the sport. Just to be here. I mean, is she in the final of the mixed? That's pretty amazing at her age.
But she's I mean, I saw her when I was six years old in Moscow, at an exhibition. That was probably the first time I ever saw her. It's been really great to see her, you know, still today in the locker room.

Q. I don't know if you heard about Jelena's blowup in the second set today versus Justine. Having spent some time...

MARIA SHARAPOVA: What is a "blowup"? Sorry.

Q. She was up 5-2, very close to winning the match. She got in an argument with the chair umpire between her first and second serves. Then she lost the next ten games.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right.

Q. Then she was out of there. Having spent some time around her, several years in Bradenton, does that surprise you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think that has anything to do with that. This is her first semifinal in her career. I mean, she's young, and this is a great opportunity for her. But she's, I mean it's a new thing for her. I don't think she's had that much experience. She's still so young. This is, I think, probably one of the most greatest thing in her career, to be in the semis.
So, I mean, you can make little mistakes here and there, but I'm sure she'll learn from the experience and move on hopefully.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports...
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http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/ (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/)
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http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/ (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/)
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andrewbroad
Sep 16th, 2006, 01:53 AM
=======
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; outdoor hard; Grand Slam)
======= http://www.usopen.org/ (http://www.usopen.org/)
Final (Saturday 9th September)
-----

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [3] d. JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE [2], 6-4 6-4

Source (including a video that ends way too early!): http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-09-09/200609101157914966046.html (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2006-09-09/200609101157914966046.html)
>>>
An interview with: MARIA SHARAPOVA


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Let's make this a positive session tonight please, por favor.

Q. Can you talk about the preparation you put into getting ready for this tournament, how rewarding this must feel for you to have it pay off like this?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely incredible. The first thing that comes into my mind when, you know, you go down on the ground and you just think of everything that you've put into this moment, and even though the moment is a very short time you get to be on court with that trophy, it's just so incredible.
You know, I experienced it two years ago, and I knew that I wasn't done, I had a lot more in me. That was just the beginning. This is not just preparation that happened a couple weeks before the tournament; this is preparation that I've done ever since I was a little girl with the help of my amazing family.

Q. You talked earlier in the tournament about during the two weeks that you took off between Los Angeles and the US Open, how much work you did off the court, not even touching a racquet. Could you give us some detail about some of the things you did to help yourself.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, it was basically, you know, after Wimbledon I took one week off, and came back to Los Angeles and I worked with one fitness coach for seven days. I probably spent maybe two or three hours of the day doing fitness, and maybe an hour or so hitting the ball.
The week after that, I started playing more tennis. I played twice a day. I played some matches. You know, did a little bit of fitness, just alone, did some things that I took from the week before.
I went into San Diego and I thought I moved better than I've moved in my career.

Q. How different is the feeling from winning the first Grand Slam and this one, the excitement?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's still... I'm still pretty shocked. I'm thrilled that I got to experience another Grand Slam win and that it's a different Grand Slam, and the vibe is a little bit different. I mean, there's definitely nothing like winning your first major. But to win your second is also a... you know, it's kind of like the cherry on the cake.
But there are a lot more cherries that I'm gonna put on that cake, so I'm looking forward to having them (smiling).

Q. During the broadcast, the CBS camera showed footage of Michael Joyce holding up four fingers.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I thought this was supposed to be a positive interview.

Q. I know that's what you wanted. But it's broadcast to the nation and you haven't had a chance to respond to it. The implication was that there was some communication. Everyone saw it, because it was...

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just won a Grand Slam. The last thing I'm gonna talk about is some fingers or a banana, all right? I hope you got that one, thanks.

Q. You made a point of acknowledging Billie Jean King, and you said a lot of nice words. Did you get to know her during the last two weeks?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I saw her once during these two weeks, but I have very fond memories of her growing up. I didn't even get to see her a lot on TV. I never really watched a lot of tennis on TV, but I definitely knew who she was. When I started playing Junior tournaments and I was playing one of the first Grand Slams, she'd always come up to my parents and she'd watch some of the matches I played. She'd always she'd just be a great supporter of Juniors. That's not something that a lot of champions do.
You know, she gave advice to my parents. You know, she talked to me. She acknowledged the things that I did well. Yeah, I honestly believe that without her, we would - I mean all of us - would not have this opportunity to, first of all, be paid the amount of money that we're getting paid, but also to have that excitement and the popularity of women's tennis.

Q. You said that you had to come in with a different game plan because of those four straight losses to Justine Henin-Hardenne before this match. How were you able to kind of erase those memories of those previous matches?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: This was a new match, a new opportunity, and this was the final of a Grand Slam. So the last thing I was worrying about was the last four times that I lost to her. You know, at this stage, in this situation, you don't worry about what happened in previous matches against her.
I didn't even worry about what happened in my previous in my semi-final when I beat Amélie. I totally forgot that. This is a new day, a new opportunity. I went on court with that. I was just I was in a zone. I had to do my job. At the end of the day, I came and I lost, I just figured I did my job and tried to do everything I can to win. And, you know, I came and I won.

Q. Now do you feel pretty?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel pretty darn good!

Q. Why does the negativity seem to be getting you right now at this time? When another reporter was you asking you about this, that everybody saw on TV, you knew it was a banana and four fingers. Is that something you don't want to address negativity right now and why?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, honestly I believe at the end of the day, personally, my life is not about a banana; it's not about what I wear; it's not about the friends that I have. My career right now is about winning a tennis match. And right now I'm sitting here as a US Open champion, and the last thing I think people need to worry about is a banana.
I mean, it's kind of... it's so funny that you just... I mean, it's kind of... it's pretty... I don't know. It's just pretty funny. I don't know what else to say, you know.
But at the end of the day, I'm a two-time Grand Slam champion. I don't care if you talk about a banana.

Q. This tremendous achievement you've had, to win the Open after having achieved a championship on Centre Court, yet the question, in all candour, it's a fair question. There's a phrase that an honest question deserves an honest answer. And the issue relates to fairness in the competition and the no-coaching rule. It's a simple question, and why we're interested in it.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right, and I gave a simple answer.

Q. That you didn't want to talk about it. It had nothing to do with the match.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right.

Q. But that is part of the competitive rules, that there are no signals. It was shown that there was signalling. So that's what we're asking for is a direct response.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Can I ask you a question?

Q. Of course.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Can you tell me, if someone tells me to eat a banana, do you think that's the reason why I'm gonna win a match?

Q. I think...

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just give me your honest opinion.

Q. I will give you an honest answer. I think there's the issue of competitive rules and...

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just take the rules away, take the books away, just just think.

Q. I'm more interested in the four fingers. What did that indicate?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I asked you to answer a question.

Q. Yes. I think...

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think.

Q. I think it was a strategic tactical moment which contributed to your thought process in the match.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, okay.

Q. And would be my I don't know, though.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: This is great advice. We should tell all the players to, you know, have a banana and they're all gonna win. Great.

Q. That's not the issue. It's not a flippant question. It's just what...

MARIA SHARAPOVA: All right. Let's move on. That's the last thing.

Q. Maria, no fruit involved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Great (laughing).

Q. Seemed like you were serving an awful lot to her forehand. That really paid off. Was that part of the game-plan?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, no, not necessarily, no. I wanted to mix it up. I wanted to mix up the pace of my serve. I wanted to give her different looks on my serve. Nothing, no.
I mean, I did that good against Amélie, you know. I thought I didn't serve well in my previous matches before the semi-final, and I knew, you know, in my mind, I knew that was one thing that I needed, that was gonna help me a lot in a match against, you know, some of the top players that you play. Yeah, I think I served very well.

Q. First, congratulations for the great run.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you.

Q. Your dad said he felt very relaxed before the final, and he was sure that you would win. How did you feel before the final in that regard?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I felt like I came into the match, and I actually did feel pretty relaxed. You know, although I lost the first two games and I got broken early in the first set, I didn't really... I didn't really worry about it. I was pretty positive about the whole thing.
You know, I don't know. I really didn't feel nervous, you know. You know, I woke up, I was excited to be in the final of a Grand Slam, and, yeah, that's... I just thought I, you know, would enjoy the opportunity, enjoy the moment of it, keep fighting until the end. That's what I did.

Q. Were you sure that you would win?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, definitely I wasn't sure that I was gonna lose, you know (laughing).
Yeah, I don't know. I went into the match neutral, but I was confident. I was.

Q. We would like to know always who you will celebrate with? Who did you call?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: My mom, that was the first person I called. And then my best friend.

Q. I want to get another aspect of this match. You had to go into both alleys left and right to make some defensive plays in this match. Did you make defensive plays in this match you could not have made a year ago?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yes, definitely. Yeah.

Q. Can you elaborate a little bit on that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, a lot of the balls that I got today, I don't think I probably would have gotten a year ago. I mean, maybe if I would have gotten it, I would have, you know, been running to the woods even if I got it. Then the next ball would be a winner.
But I feel like I'm able to hit those over and over again. Uhm, you know, against a player where you need to be patient, you need to run many balls, not only do you mentally have to be prepared for it, but physically. I definitely feel a lot better physically than I did last year.

Q. When Justine won here, she called it her "Confirmation Grand Slam." This is your second. You beat Kim, Mauresmo, Justine, the top three in the last couple months. What does it say about your game? Does it say something special to you about where you've gone now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess I'm not here to compliment my own self. I'm thrilled that I just won my second major. At the end of the day, I'm not done yet, you know. I feel like I'm not done. I still have years to go in my career where I feel like I am gonna improve, and I am gonna become a better player than I am today.
But I'm absolutely thrilled, because you don't get to experience these moments every day. I think I said that's what you work for every single day, are these moments. Is it a confirmation? No, I honestly don't didn't feel like I needed to confirm anything, no.

Q. Before today's final match, what kind of music did you hear in the warming up? What was the song? What made you concentrated?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was listening to the Dave Matthews Band (laughing).

Q. Justine just a few moments ago praised you for being brave and taking a lot more chances than she was able to. Was that something that was your strategy from the outset, or did it evolve as the match developed?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, like I said, chances are probably one of the biggest keys that you have to take when you're playing against a top player. You know, seeing the opportunities, sensing them, and making sure it's the right time, you know. I made sure that, you know, when I got a short ball, I'd try to come in, put some pressure on her, you know.
It honestly wasn't my game-plan trying to run side to side with her and trying to beat her in the long rallies. That would definitely not have been smart of me.
But, yeah, I had to take my opportunities, had to take the short balls and try to come in whenever I could.

Q. Could you tell us who the trainer you worked with in Los Angeles was?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't want to talk, because he's not my permanent trainer yet.

Q. You told the crowd that you love New York and it was your favourite city.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It is.

Q. Could you briefly say why?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, well, I came to New York for the first time when I was probably ten or eleven years old. I could not understand the city. I did not like anything about it. But with every year that I've been coming back, I've just gotten to go to different parts of the city, experience... it seems like in every part of the city, it's like a different culture, a different way of life. I find it amazing that you could just take a ten-minute taxi ride and just be in a totally different environment. There's so many things to do.
But I feel comfortable in it, you know. I don't feel like some people think it's a madhouse; I love it, because I always want to do things, you know. I can't just sit still and be at home and cook. Definitely not me.

Q. You have become an American icon, that's obvious. You speak American, you spent half of your life here.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Does American exist? I speak English. I don't speak American anything.

Q. Do you feel any disconnect? Do you ever think about changing your allegiance?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I never think about that. I moved to the United States because of my tennis career, because of what I had to do with tennis. I still live here. I'm still training here. Yeah, I've definitely gotten accustomed to the way of life here, but who wouldn't, after spending more than half of their life in a country?

Q. What's your best quality as a player?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I don't give up, yeah. I don't like to lose, and I'm just strong mentally.

Q. Many years ago Nike had a slogan for a commercial for Agassi, "Image is everything". It became a boomerang for him, too. Do you think "I feel pretty" will last you long, and what do you think about it? Are you aware this could be a problem?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: A problem?

Q. For your tennis.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's been a lucky charm for me at this tournament, so hope we can keep going (laughing).
I mean, it's kind of... it's a little bit sarcastic, because if you watch the commercial, it's you know, everyone is telling me that I'm pretty, but the last thing that happens in the commercial is when I slam a ball and I feel darn pretty grunting!
That's basically what it is. That's the hidden message in that whole commercial, you know, for girls that grow up. And, I mean, I said this, you can probably read one of my other interviews, but girls that grow up and they might be bullied, or they might be, uhm, girls and boys, they might not feel their best. At the end of the day, it's the hard work and dedication and their fearlessness that goes into their career.

Q. Did you allow yourself to dream about this winning moment at the Open, and maybe the matches leading up to this, or the days leading up to it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uh hmm.

Q. How did it compare?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Did I dream of it?

Q. Yeah.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I didn't dream of it. I'm not a good dreamer (laughing). But I did envision myself winning it, yeah, I did.

Q. Wimbledon is your moment of triumph. Must have felt incredibly magical. Now it's been a little stretch since this incredible moment. You said there was a difference. Can you describe the ecstasy you felt then, compared to moment of triumph [now]?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Wimbledon was just, it was like a shock, you know. I personally, in my mind, going into every match, I was just... I was thinking to myself, "This is so weird, I should have been back home already, I should have been, you know, training, and here I am, I'm going out to Centre Court." I thought that before the semi-final. When I came back from the rain delay, I was like, "Jesus, we're gonna play tomorrow, it's one day away from home."
Then I won that match. It was just weird because I felt like it happened so fast in my career, you know. Before that, I mean, I was consistently doing well. My ranking was improving. But, I mean, I wasn't beating top players consistently. I didn't feel, I mean, I wasn't... French Open before Wimbledon was the first Grand Slam that I ever got into a quarters. I was thrilled about that.
So it was that... just that... was just... it just happened really, really fast, and that's why it became such a shock for me.
Uhm, this is obviously another shock, you know. But because I've won my first Slam, I don't know how to explain the difference, you know. It's tough.

Q. Have you reached a level now, in terms of prize money, that $1,700,000 doesn't make any difference to your life, or does it impress you how important is the money? This summer you said that it was very important, apparently.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's another thing that I'm not gonna get into it right now.
But winning, you can't buy a Grand Slam title, you know? You can't buy it. There are people around the world that have billions of dollars, but no matter how much they want a US Open title, the only thing they can do is buy some good tennis racquets, get the best trainers out there, and work their butt off. Yeah, this can't beat any sort of money, any sort of paper.

Q. So what are you gonna do to celebrate, keep positive, and give us something good here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Right now?

Q. Yeah.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Going out.

Q. Tonight, tomorrow, anything really fun?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.

Q. Come on!

MARIA SHARAPOVA: (Laughing) Do you want to know the exact details of where I'm going to be sitting, with who?

Q. No, no, no, not that interested.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm sure you're not. Bull! (laughing)

Q. Is the top of the trophy dented?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I thought to myself the second that happened, I was like, "That's typical Maria. Typical." I just... I knew. I knew. There's always something that's gonna happen.
But the answer to your question, I mean, I'm definitely gonna celebrate. I don't know. Everyone's surprising me. I don't even know where I'm going right now, but we're definitely celebrating!

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