Playing '21' with Maria
By Gene Sapakoff
The Post and Courier
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
You have your problems. I have mine.
Perhaps you have a balloon mortgage payment overdue, engine trouble, indigestion issues.
Annoying neighbors? Overweight? Unwanted insects, pimples and house guests?
Yeah, but consider my plight: Trying to plan Maria Sharapova's 21st birthday party around her hectic Family Circle Cup schedule.
The caterer isn't returning calls. The band I want is on a Scandinavian tour.
And what do you get for a globe- trotting, multi-millionaire, multi-Grand Slam winner who already has all the Nike gear, Canon cameras and Gatorade she can use? An iTunes gift card?
Fortunately, this is Charleston, where party opportunities outnumber gnats.
Pleasantly, the No. 2 seed at this Family Circle Cup seems prepared to enjoy her first extended Lowcountry experience, cake and all.
"What day do I turn 21?" Sharapova asked with a giggle.
"Saturday, right?" she said. "Well, hopefully I'll be in the semifinals and hopefully I can win that match. It's just the way it is with your birthday, you never know when it's going to hit on tour. But if I get (to the semifinals), I'll be happy."
We're going to make sure of that.
Sharapova favors virgin strawberry daiquiris. So let's pull together, people. On the house anywhere in town, got it?
Otherwise, a highly compensated choreographer has signed off on a tentative schedule sure to delight.
--Today: After a first-round bye, Sharapova tonight will make short work of American qualifier Bethanie Mattek, ranked No. 151.
The fun day starts with lunch at Magnolias and a tour of Magnolia Gardens.
--Thursday: Ho-hum, another win.
Shopping on King Street.
Lunch on Shem Creek.
A nice stroll on the Pitt Street Bridge.
--Friday: The quarterfinals and possibly a match with Serena Williams.
How nice of the Family Circle Cup people to bring 35th anniversary guests such as Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova to town to help Sharapova celebrate.
Arrangements have been made for a private tour of Fort Sumter via a yacht stocked with shrimp and grits from Barbara Jean's (optional stop for virgin strawberry daiquiris at Castle Pinckney).
--Saturday: After fielding congratulatory telegrams, text messages and e-mails from friends and wanna-be friends all over the world, Maria can spend the afternoon winning her semifinal match.
We have booked an oceanfront estate at an undisclosed Isle of Palms location. Maria can invite anyone she wants, or no one at all. If she prefers to order a pizza from A Dough Re Mi and relax, all the better. Because a good night's sleep is in order for the Sunday final.
--Sunday: Top seed and defending champ Jelena Jankovic lurks on the other side of the bracket.
Win or lose in the final, Sharapova deserves another slice of cake and Thai cuisine, her favorite food other than Russian. A Basil takeout spread will be waiting in the clubhouse.
If everything comes together as carefully planned and there isn't a pluff mud incident, a larger than life poster of Maria Sharapova will be unveiled aside Family Circle Stadium and she will be back next year to celebrate birthday No. 22.