M. SHARAPOVA/A. Rodionova 6‑2, 6‑3
Q. How was that for you today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the first oneís always tricky. To go out there after not competing for a couple weeks, the transition from clay to grass, I thought I started off the match really well. Had a few letdowns towards the end of both of those sets.
Overall Iím pretty happy with the way I performed, especially for a first match, not having matches coming in.
Q. How do you find the surface and the atmosphere?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, itís always a very nice feeling for me to be back on Centre Court. Itís been a year. Itís such a special place for me. You know, itís quiet, but itís a very understated, nice feeling to be out there.
Q. How is it to be back this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Itís certainly the best gift I could have received at this time in my career. I certainly worked hard for it. My comeback wasnít the easiest. Wasnít a Cinderella story, thatís for sure. Took a lot of tough days and losses and some wins to get to that moment. But you realize when you actually do get there that itís worth it.
All of those situations youíre put in and put through, if you come out of them, itís a nice prize on the other side.
Q. Do you consider your comeback complete now, and this is a new stage now that you got the Grand Slam title you were looking for?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think maybe in terms of comeback, yes, because itís a Grand Slam win and to get back to No. 1. But in terms of my career, definitely not. Iím still very humble and very appreciative of what I have. I still believe that I can achieve a lot more.
Thatís what drives me and gets me up in the morning still, no matter how much success Iíve had, no matter how many downfalls, I still believe I can be better. I think until the day comes that I wake up and I think my game is not good enough, thatís the time where you say, WellÖ
Q. So after Paris, you smiled a lot, and now youíre thinking about Wimbledon and youíre thinking, Okay, next stage now. This is sort of behind me and now I have to plan for something new?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, itís really something that Iíll have for the rest of my life and something that I can think back on and know that I was part of the Roland Garros history.
But this sport puts you back to reality so fast. Within days youíre back practicing, getting ready, and it starts from scratch, starts from the first round. It just happens to be Wimbledon.
So when youíre a Grand Slam champion, youíre No. 1 in the world, everybody is more hungry across the net to beat you.
Q. What do you think about the plans to extend the time from the end of the Roland Garros to the beginning of Wimbledon, maybe an extra week to adjust to the grass?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, maybe. It just depends on how that transitions towards the end of the year and if we have to sacrifice an extra week at the end of the calendar year, which itís tough already. We donít have that much time. I mean, especially the men. Theyíre a couple weeks after us.
So as difficult of a transition as it is, I think itís maybe better like that than seeing the schedule go over the weeks that it is. Which I donít think it will, because weíre always pushing for a little bit of a longer off‑season.
Q. What was the one or two toughest moments in the stretch of your comeback?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it was just the general idea of not competing and not competing at a level that I wanted to and that I knew that I could. I mean, during the time that I was away from the sport, it was me wanting to be out there so much and I really couldnít.
You know, sometimes you have goals for yourself and people say, You canít achieve that. But it was like a stop sign. I couldnít really go out and compete professionally at a high level without a lot of pain, so I knew that was not possible.
And then when I would come back in the beginning, and even the losses that I went through, I knew that I was capable of so much better out on the court. I knew that had to come out sometime because I put a lot of work in and I know I have it in me.
Youíre never going to lose that. Itís about finding and putting the right pieces together in order for it to come out.
Q. This is the first time here coming off having won the French. Whatís different about that, if anything, as you conduct yourself and progress at Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, whatís different is I can say Iím the French Open champion. I guess thatís the difference (laughter).
Yeah, I mean, look, as much as you want to celebrate, be so excited and happy, I really think that memory, you enjoy it for just that amount of time, which is a few days you get to relax and think about the victory.
Like I mentioned, you come to a tournament and itís not like that it never happened, but youíve got to start back again from scratch in the practices and the work and get yourself through round one and through to the final again.
It all starts from the beginning.
Q. When you come here every year, do you still think about 2004?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think of what Iíve achieved. When I walk past the boards with the champions, I definitely look at it and I see my name, and it makes me really happy to be part of such history at this tournament. Of course I do. How can you not?
Q. When you see your picture, do you say, That was just a young girl then; she didnít know what she was doing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I donít know if I didnít know what I was doing, but I was a young girl. I was like, My ponytail was too low (smiling).
Q. What has been the most surprising thing since you won Roland Garros?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Most surprising thing? I donít know. Nothing. I wish I could tell you something crazy happened or I was wild.
No, Iím pretty relaxed about things. I think thatís something thatís helped me in the last few years. As much as you want to be down after losing or as much as you want to celebrate a victory, Iíve been pretty levelheaded since my injury about the really good days and the bad days. I handle situations much better than I did maybe when I was younger.
The next day after I won, I was in Row 20 in a European Southwest Airlines going to Spain to see my candy being produced with little babies next to me. It was like reality check.
Q. How does that airline compare with Southwest?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not enough leg room. I had bruises on my knees. That was the only direct option, so I didnít have many options. I didnít want to connect anywhere.
Q. Did people recognize you or ask you to hold their babies?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I was traveling with a family. It was my physioís family that had a baby which I love carrying, so I was slightly responsible.