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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 01:26 PM   #151
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Old Jun 18th, 2005, 03:06 PM   #152
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Sharapova earns stripes with 'zebra philosophy'
By Mark Hodgkinson
(Filed: 18/06/2005)

Maria Sharapova has enjoyed such a precocious rise towards the top of the sport, and only very rarely does some of the celebrity sheen come off, but the teenage Russian yesterday revealed a softer, more vulnerable side to her personality. She said that she has some dark times on tour, days when she feels that "everything is wrong".

It was quite refreshing to hear such comments from Sharapova, the defending Wimbledon champion and already a global brand at the age of 18. She admitted that she is often only able to work through her problems with her very own "zebra philosophy", but perhaps more importantly, with the behind-the-scenes support that she receives from her mother.

Sharapova did not talk at length about her tennis itself, about any technical refinements she may have been making to her backhand, but about her relationship with her mother.

It is her excitable father and coach, Yuri, who tends to take centre-stage with his cries of encouragement and constant shakes of the fist, but Sharapova said that she relies on her mother, Yelena, to keep her sane in the strange and slightly unbalanced world that is the tennis circuit.

"I talk about everything with my mum. She's always the first person I call when I'm feeling down. It's not like you are going to be happy every single day and you are not always going to get your own way. You might wake up and feel like everything is wrong, you've been on the road for eight weeks, and you've got another four to go, and of course I have those moments all the time," Sharapova said.

"I call my mum, and I say, 'Mum, I want to go home'. But it's like a zebra; you have a white line and then a black line and then a white line. I always think that when I have a black line that there is a white line coming after it. That's my philosophy."

It may help Sharapova that her mother is removed from the sport, that Yelena does not travel with her and will almost certainly not even follow her daughter's Centre Court progress on television, as that offers the world No 2 some perspective. "She says that she can't watch my matches. She just says, 'If you win, I'll be very happy, but if you lose it's just another match'," Sharapova said.

Sharapova did not see her mother for two years after leaving Siberia at the age of nine, accompanied by her father, to train in Florida. They could not afford all three of them to be in America. So mother and daughter are used to having a relationship that is largely conducted over the telephone.

"Mum is the kind of woman who doesn't like the spotlight. She is very quiet. She doesn't like to be around the tennis world. I ask her to come but she doesn't want to if I am going to be practising the whole time and she is going to be in museums," Sharapova said.

"I get a lot of things from my mum. I've always admired her. She's very down to earth and very intelligent in a lot of things she does."

The defining image of last year's final, against American Serena Williams, was that of Sharapova afterwards attempting to call her mother on her mobile phone, giggling coquettishly at the lack of success. Sharapova explained that the problem was not, as thought, a lack of reception on Centre Court, but that she had forgotten that her mother was on a plane at the time, flying from New York to Florida, and would have turned her own phone off.

"Mum watched parts of the match as they had it live on the television on the plane. At the end of the match, she saw on the television that I was trying to call her. So she politely went up to the stewardess to ask if she could turn her phone on and talk to me. My mum is not the sort of lady to jump up and down," Sharapova said.
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 02:16 AM   #153
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Giggles conceal steel of the ice maiden
By Sue Mott
(Filed: 20/06/2005)

Daily Telegraph



Wimbledon seedings in full
2005 singles draw


The girl who captured the Wimbledon title with her game and captivated the Centre Court crowd with her giggles returns to the scene of her conquest. With her she brings an enormous wardrobe, her chemistry homework and her steely determination not to let the crown slip into rival hands without a ferocious fight. Maria Sharapova is blonde, poised, groomed and 18, but those Siberian roots have given her icy resolve.


Model professional: Maria Sharapova has the right mentality
"I know that every single tournament I go to, no matter who I play, no matter how friends I am with that person, I know I just want to rip them apart every time I step on court." She laughed the famous laugh, a high-pitched gunfire of jollity that doesn't sound so jolly for her opponents somehow.

In the intervening year, she's gone global. She arrived at Wimbledon last year, little known, little expected, 13th (lucky for some) seed. By the time she had beaten Serena Williams in the final, she was a superstar-in-waiting. To be honest, she didn't have to wait long.

"I expected it would come but I didn't expect it so soon," she said, cool as ever, jewellery-bedecked and a decade older in demeanour than her linear years would suggest. "I felt like everyone all of a sudden knew who I was. I was on the cover of every single magazine. I was in all the newspapers." She paused for a bout of giggling.

"Of course, I love being good at what I do. Being recognised for it. People talking to me. Asking for autographs. When you get stopped in the street, it makes you realise you have done something. It gives you a flashback to what you have achieved. I don't mind. I really appreciate my fans."

For a while after the sheer, traumatic shock of the result, the penny, or the rouble or the cent (depending where she was sitting) refused to drop that she had accomplished so precocious a dream. "Oh God, it took a really long time. I was thinking, 'What did happen?' and, 'Am I really champion?' I was on the move all the time. It just didn't sink in. Then one day, sitting on a couch chatting with a friend, she's like, 'Oh my God - a month ago - you won Wimbledon!' and I'm like, 'I know! I know! Hee, hee, hee." A giggle storm ensued.

"It does feel like I'm at the top of women's tennis because I'm Wimbledon champion. Through my junior years people were always expecting the best from me. I had too many compliments. Of course, I appreciated them but I was 30 to 35 in the world. It's a big difference between being 35 in the world and being No 1 or 2. So once I won Wimbledon, I felt I had accomplished something big, something that proves it. All those compliments - they deserve to be here now."

No false modesty with Maria. Her expectations are higher than Ivo Karlovic and she maintains her self-belief at a similar altitude. It may help that she has the looks, the shape, the highlights, the carriage and the dangerous frost when displeased to intrigue the marketing world. Either that, or they just threw endorsement worth $20 million (£11 million) in her direction as the ultimate act of altruism.

She acknowledges the benefit of beauty. "It helps I guess. But it really doesn't make life any easier. You still have to have a career. You have to have a personality for people to work with and to try to get to be No 1 in tennis. You still have to work. You can take a lot of beautiful people from the street but obviously they are having a normal job and living a normal social life. There's a big difference between that and winning Wimbledon." Sharapova isn't complaining.

"It's easier to meet hot guys, put it this way. It's a lot easier." She convulsed in familiar hilarity. But before various males at Wimbledon decide to get themselves heated, she is highly selective. "It's not just guys, it's everyone. After Wimbledon I was getting so many letters and so many phone calls from people I haven't heard from in five years. People who worked once on my serve called me or were giving interviews saying that's why I won Wimbledon. I find that when I meet new people, I can tell from my first response whether that's someone you would enjoy to be with. It's instinct. You have to have that. Because a lot of things happen behind your back.

"I've seen attitudes towards me change in the locker room but hopefully in a good way. It's hard to say. I'm only 18, a lot on the girls' tour are a lot older. If I was in their position, I would be delighted to see a new generation of players coming through. You haven't seen so many players who are young in the top 10 for a really long time. I hope they appreciate that. But it's hard to know what they are thinking on the inside. They might have a smile on their face, but underneath it might be different. Of course, we are all competitive. You're not going to say, 'All the best to your opponent'."

The competition is all the hotter for the yoyo effect of fortunes this year. Lindsay Davenport, the veteran American who nearly retired a year ago, is up there as women's No 1.

Justine Henin-Hardenne, who has beaten Sharapova twice this year, prevailed at the French Open after a long run of illness and injury. Her fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters defeated Sharapova in Miami, Patty Schnyder beat her in Rome and Serena Williams gained vengeance for Wimbledon by winning their gladiatorial three-set semi-final in Australia. On the plus side, the reigning Wimbledon champion won Doha, Tokyo and, significantly, Birmingham on grass.

All Sharapova knows is that she possesses the right tigerish mentality. She is world No 2 for good reason. "I grew up with a lot of competition at Nick Bollettieri's in Florida. I constantly played matches against older kids. In fact, I'm always with older people in tennis and also businesswise. I not only have to be a player, I also have to be a businesswoman at 18.

"I know I don't seem like a kid, but when I'm back in my hotel room, underneath the tennis player and businesswoman, there's still a lot of me that's 18-years-old. Ish." Giggle. "Behind closed doors, I'm still like a little kid. I'm still growing into myself. Yet when you become 18, you have to put your responsibilities together. You are officially an adult and you have to stand up for yourself. You have your parents, but now there's going to be another grown-up life."

Is this bad news for Youri, her father, her co-coach, her companion, from Nyagan, Siberia, who has been so instrumental in her formation so far while her mother, Yelena, remains indistinct in the background? Is she about, in time-honoured, tennis-tot tradition, to rebel? She turns not a golden hair. "I've always been a really independent person. I've always been really, really picky about the people around me. I've changed so many coaches and travelled with so many different people, I have to enjoy the team around me.

"But when I have my dad around me, he knows when to give me space. Just to have a parent with you, it gives you a whole different feeling. Parents know you best, other people come and go. It's a bit of a cycle. At this point I'm pretty satisfied with the people around me but I have never had any hesitation about losing people. Why wait? Why waste time? Go with your instinct."

It is interesting to discover which traits she inherited from her parents. "My mum's a very elegant lady. She always taught me to be very proper and beautiful on the inside instead of out. To care for others. "From my dad, that's where I've gotten my competitive side. Hee-hee. I always know when he's not happy. He plays tennis, of course, but he's a extreme skier. He's crazy about it. He jumps out of helicopters on to the mountains. No, I would never do that. Hee-hee-hee. I like an island in the sunshine. Typical girl.

"Neither of my parents have given me any pressure. They always tried to find the best tennis facility for me, no matter how much it cost, whatever it was, but I never thought I had to give anything in return. I was given the opportunity to play tennis and they gave everything they could to make me great. But they were not stupid. They knew that not everyone can be a champion. If it didn't work out, they would have gone into a different business. I have never felt any, any pressure to win."

But ask her if she has ever shouted: 'Oh, just shut up, dad,' and she laughs and says: "Of course. I have my dad-and-daughter moments, don't worry. There are times when we get into a fight and not talk for, like, 10 minutes, but we just laugh it off because we know each other so well. For some reason, we just slot together. And there's no trouble with boyfriends either. My dad's really cool with guys. I think he understands I'm already an adult. He's very OK with it."

It might be hard for a teenage girl to see so relatively little of her mother, but she was inured to separation from the age of nine when she emigrated to America with a racket in her hand. She has now been nine years each in east and west. She is a 50-50 citizen of the world. "But, you know, I have always really felt Russian. I have a lot of memories of Russia. It made me who I am. Even when I'm with friends in Florida or LA, I say, 'Oh, that's so American' as though I'm not part of it. I feel you have a piece of home in your heart forever and that is where home is for me." Siberia and the Centre Court.

"Of course, I want to retain my Wimbledon title. I will have shivers going through my whole body when I arrive at the site again." This contrasts with her evident fears of a Wimbledon stalker, but no doubt her up-to-five bodyguards will take care of that, and anyway she is more concerned about what she will be wearing.

There is the teenage girl peeping out through the businesswoman's eyes. One minute she talks of sporting destiny and the next the trim on her dress. "I'm a fashion girl. For my birthday, I asked my friend to get me a mannequin, sized medium, and I want to get a sewing machine but my mum won't let me yet because I've just bought a house. I've got a big variety of clothes. A huge variety. A lot still have the tags on because I haven't had the chance to wear them yet."

Unbelievably, she is still at high school. She has just finished algebra and is gearing up for chemistry and, hopefully, languages. But which one? Spanish, she wondered. It is a difficult choice but one that may be entirely unnecessary. In the world she now inhabits, they just speak in superlatives.
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 05:46 PM   #154
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Maria goes shopping for another day in dreamland

By Ronald Atkin


19 June 2005

Had there ever been doubt that the Wimbledon champion is eager to get on with the defence of her title, Maria Sharapova's arrival well ahead of schedule for our chat immediately dispelled it. Her Women's Tennis Association minder having been wrong-footed by such punctuality, Maria perched alone on a chair outside the All England Club's interview room No 3, looking every cent's worth of the $50m (£27m) she is supposed to be worth, braided blonde hair restrained by a bandana which matched her cummerbund and elegant open-toed, high-heeled shoes.

Shoes are Maria's weakness, the one thing the girl who suddenly has everything still can't resist going out to shop for. On that shopping list, however, shoes come well behind Wimbledon among her favourite things, for it was at Wimbledon 12 months back that what this 18-year-old beauty regards as her destiny came to pass. The inheritance of that destiny was evident on the day Sharapova had dedicated to pre-Wimbledon media matters; clumps of cameramen assembled on the players' tea lawn, with each TV channel allocated a maximum of three minutes for the interviewer to probe the champion's mind and for the lens to roam around this class act. It is impossible to think of another athlete at the top of her profession so stunningly glamorous, so composed, so assured, so confident. Perhaps that is part of Maria's intimidation strategy, to look so brilliant that the opposition will seek the nearest court cover to crawl beneath.

The moment in July 2004 when Sharapova fell to her knees on Centre Court in the chalk dust of the baseline, the moment when Serena Williams had the title torn from her, was, she says now, "the moment that I was brought on earth for". Her first Grand Slam. Still her only Grand Slam. And if she could win another of the major titles, what would it be, Maria?

"A second Wimbledon," she replies firmly. "It means more to me than any other tournament. You just get that feeling inside of you when you come to Wimbledon. There are so many other things about this place, the people, the organisation, the whole site. I feel really comfortable. It's a lot like home to me."

Sharapova is geared for that title defence, aches and pains of the clay-court season banished, basking in the comforting warmth of a title won on grass at Birmingham last weekend. A repeat title, too, which might be interpreted as an omen were she superstitious. Realism, not superstition, is what she deals in. "Of course, defending it is going to be tougher than winning, but hopefully I can just play great tennis. I didn't know I could win last year, and if I don't defend this time that is going to be a major upset in my life. But last year is something I can cherish the rest of my life, it's not like somebody is going to take it away."

On the question of who in particular might be best qualified to knock the crown from her pretty head, Maria stresses that the opposition are all alike as far as she is concerned. "I don't have any rivalries, I get along fine with everyone. I don't harbour hurt feelings against anyone. And I'm not envious of anyone. I just love competing against the top players, win or lose."

Required to assess the threat of Justine Henin-Hardenne, whom she could meet in the semi-finals and to whom she has lost twice recently, in Berlin and at the French Open, Sharapova tabled her admiration for the Belgian battler and her achievements in the face of adversity, pointing out: "I've been through a lot too when I was younger, so I know that these situations make you stronger."

Addressing those defeats, Maria said: "First of all, we were playing on clay, her favourite surface and my least favourite. In Berlin, she played an amazing match when the conditions were heavy and in her favour. I didn't play badly, she was just too good for me. In the French I am not going to say she was the better player, but she was the stronger mentally.

"So can I beat her on grass? I'm going to do my best, and not just against her. But every match with Justine is going to be difficult, no matter where we play."

Becoming Wimbledon champion not only made Sharapova immensely richer, but tougher and better as a tennis player. "Life from that day changed completely. The world woke up to me and it was so amazing. I felt like everyone was touched by it and wanted to become part of it. I got so many things sent to my house. I got clothes, hair products, spa products, flowers, shoes. Usually at Christmas I'm saying I want this or that. But last Christmas I realised I didn't need anything. I have everything, I'm settled.

"But still I need to shop. I could never give that up, even if I had everything in the world. My biggest weakness is shoes. Even if I have 10 pairs of the same style I still want the 11th."

Sharapova would also quite like a stronger serve, but in general is content with the level of improvement over the past 12 months. "Last year I didn't feel I could last two weeks physically. Now I am much more experienced and that helps. I have the 'been there, done that' feeling, so I know how to do it again. I can last through a tournament better now, I can play tougher matches, I recover a lot better. Though there was no particular shot last year that was terrible, I want to make every single shot better than it is now, and that is possible. I also need to get physically stronger, but that doesn't happen overnight. I am still only 18 and my body hasn't matured."

Born on 19 April 1987, Sharapova describes herself as "a typical Aries, I always have to be doing something, I can't sit still even for a few minutes." She reads a lot, running the gamut from Sherlock Holmes to her favourite bedtime books, Pippi Longstocking. Much of Maria's spare time these days is devoted to the setting up of her own charitable foundation. After last year's school massacre in Beslan, she donated the Porsche given to her as winner of the WTA's season-ending championships to that Russian cause, and made black ribbons for the other Russian players to wear.

Born in Siberia and plucked from the Black Sea resort of Sochi at the age of eight to learn tennis the hard way at Nick Bollettieri's Florida academy, Sharapova still makes her home in that state, as her fluent American-accented English demonstrates. Those US leanings persuaded some other Russian women to complain they didn't want her in their team for the international competition, the Fed Cup. Sharapova says airily that all is now resolved and she will play Fed Cup, but not this year.

As for whether she considers she won Wimbledon for Russia, the teenager responds vigorously: "Tennis is an individual sport, and when you win you don't think about who you won it for. It was an amazing moment for me to become the first Russian to win Wimbledon, but you don't think of that right afterwards."

Perhaps so, but a Sharapova repeat at Wimbledon would be guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of many in Mother Russia.
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 06:42 PM   #155
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Man who put the work into Sharapova

Maria Sharapova's coach, Robert Lansdorp, explains how hard work was the making of last year's Wimbledon champion

Eleanor Preston
Monday June 20, 2005
The Guardian


Watch Maria Sharapova hit ball after ball on Wimbledon's Aorangi Park practice court over the next fortnight and you might start getting dizzy, mesmerised as that yellow blur flies across court with metronomic consistency as if it were attached to her racket via an invisible elastic cord.


It may not be as glamorous as modelling a Stella McCartney dress, designing her own perfume or any of the other less onerous tasks Russia's most photographed export has been asked to perform since she won Wimbledon but the monotonous, repetitive thud of ball on strings is what made her a champion in the first place.

"There are a lot of things I need to improve on," says the 18-year-old. "I think physically I still have to get stronger. Tennis-wise there are a lot of little things I can improve that can make me a better and smarter player."

Sharapova's coach, Robert Lansdorp, began working with her when she was 11 and, as former pupils like Tracy Austin, Pete Sampras and Lindsay Davenport will testify, he is renowned for the work ethic he demands.

"Robert has made a big impact on my game definitely, because when I was 11 years old I wasn't the kind of person that wanted to practise and hit ball after ball," says Sharapova. "I wasn't consistent enough. When I came to Robert, he was like, 'OK, this girl has to hit ball after ball after ball until this basket is finished.' When I looked in the basket, there were about 1,000 balls in there. My eyes were pretty big when I saw that basket."

"The first time I saw her I spotted that she had an instinctive feel of where the court was but she had this horrible concentration and there were problems with her forehand," says Lansdorp. "She was not very good on hitting 100 balls forehand crosscourt in a row. Once I see that the ball is hit cleanly I will have the player repeat that over and over. And I'm very demanding about where the ball lands."

Lansdorp admits that the young Sharapova sometimes objected to the stringent routines her coach put her through in pursuit of success. It is hard to imagine many 11-year-olds meekly accepting a punishing schedule of an average of four hours a day spent walloping forehands in the muggy Florida summer heat.

"It's just a matter of making her do things that she never liked doing," shrugs Lansdorp. "Now she loves doing it. Every single person that becomes great needs that discipline."

There were plenty of things about Sharapova that Lansdorp concedes he cannot take credit for, not least her innate competitiveness, a fighting spirit which was just as evident when she was a lanky 14-year-old playing in the juniors as it was when she was beating Serena Williams so mercilessly in last year's Wimbledon final.

"When you see Maria off the court, she is easy going but, when she practises, she is intense and then, when she plays her match, she becomes, like, real feisty," says Lansdorp. "When she was 13, I went to watch her play the first pro tournament in Sarasota, in Florida. She lost in three sets and she was crying afterwards and I told her then, 'You don't have a thing to worry about because you're going to be great.' She wasn't good enough then because her shots weren't accurate enough but she had no fear of hitting the ball. Every great champion, they have that when they walk on the court: they have no fear."

Martina Hingis put it more succinctly. "She's as mean as a snake. She reminds me of me." Sharapova laughs but accepts the compliment. "I hope she's right," she says. "I've always been a big competitor and I've always been really mentally tough and I guess that comes with it. You want to win everything you play. I'm like that about everything. If I'm eating a bowl of pasta, then I've got to be doing it faster than anyone else. I'm always, always competitive." And with that she is off, back to the practice court for more hard graft. "In order to be the best you have to dedicate yourself to what you're doing," she says. "I've been willing to do that. Was it worth it? Oh yeah."
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 08:21 PM   #156
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Here are some nice screen caps of a glamorous Maria that I took.
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 09:55 PM   #157
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she looks so great in this pic

thanks for posting
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 11:19 AM   #158
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bloody hell she looks gorgeus in that pic! nice 1 summon!
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Old Jul 25th, 2005, 03:18 PM   #159
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Published July 24, 2005
Sharapova's second home

Russian phenom Maria Sharapova has grown from teen with promise to big star in front of Breakers' faithful.

By Rick Devereux, Daily Pilot

NEWPORT BEACH -- She's back.

Maria Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion, returned to the Palisades Tennis Club in Newport Beach Saturday to help the Breakers defeat the visiting St. Louis Aces, 22-16.

It was a much better showing than her last trip to Palisades when Nicole Vaidisova beat the 18-year old Russian, 5-3, in Sharapova's first match after her grand slam victory.

Saturday, Sharapova dominated women's singles, beating the Aces' Jamea Jackson, 5-0.

"I practice in L.A., so Newport Beach is like a second home for me," Sharapova said before the match. "The people have been very supportive."

Sharapova has been a member of the Breakers since 2003 and involved with World Team Tennis since 2002.

"I started with Delaware when I was 14," Sharapova said. "World Team Tennis gave me an opportunity to play when I was young. It's been such an amazing opportunity for me grow."

And grow she has.

The 6-foot blond bombshell is a bona fide celebrity.

She was featured as one of the 50 most beautiful people by People Magazine and is one of the most sought-after female athletes for endorsements.

While Sharapova has been compared to fellow Russian tennis knockout Anna Kounikova, Sharapova was an advantage Kournikova does not: she's a great tennis player.

Sharapova has advanced to the semifinals or better in eight of the 10 tournaments she has played this year, including titles at Tokyo, Doha and Birmingham. She is 41-7 this year and is ranked No. 2 in the world behind Lindsay Davenport.

The format of WTT play is different than what Sharapova experiences on the Women's Tennis Association professional tour, but that is one of draws for her.

"Tennis is such a competitive sport," she said. "I really like the team atmosphere (associated with the WTT). Tennis is such an individual sport, it's nice to play for a team."

Thanks to Sharapova's brilliance Saturday, her team secured a sport in the WTT playoffs.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2005, 06:04 PM   #160
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My love affair with Wimbledon
06-June-2005
Once the excitement from turning 18 had begun to cool down, I needed to start to focus on the trip to Europe for the clay and grass court swings. Donít get me wrong, I had the BEST time over there last summer obviously since I won my first Grand Slam at Wimbledon, but I still find it tough leaving home for such long periods Ė and I still miss my mom real bad whenever Iím on the road. And I know it might sound a little crazy, but the other thing I REALLY miss is my own bed! Am I complaining? I guess I can't, right?

When I left NYC I played in Berlin, Germany, then Rome, Italy, before finally ending up in Paris for the French Open. After losing in the quarters in Paris to Justine H. it was back in the air and on to jolly ol'e England to get ready for Wimbledon (Can I win it again?) Some people might have forgotten that I also won a tournament in Birmingham just before Wimbledon, which gave me a lot of confidence. I'm playing the same WTA event at Edgbaston this year as part of my preparations for Wimbeldon. Who knows... maybe history will repeat itself again.

I canít describe how exciting it was to win the Wimbledon title last year and I canít wait to get back on Center Court to try to do it again.

After the Birmingham tournament, we head down to London and set up base near the courts, which is a really beautiful area of houses, shops and restaurants about five minutes from the All England Club,. I don't get out too much during Wimbledon as I eat most nights in the Players Village (they have a GREAT Thai restaurant there!) and it's really close to where I rent a house for the fortnight (wow... did I write that?). Because I was able to do so well last summer Iím pretty much just trying to do everything the same as I did back then. Iím very superstitious!

A bunch of people have asked me if I feel more pressure this year with the extra expectation of having to try and defend my title, but I donít really see it that way. Ever since I was small, Iíve dreamt of playing at Wimbledon, and to have won it last year was a dream come true. So just to be returning there is still really special, and itíll be an amazing feeling to walk out onto Center Court as defending champion.

Outside of tennis I guess Iím just a fairly normal 18-year-old; I love catching up with my friends (my mobile phone bill is always HUGE!), listening to music and shopping, especially for clothes, so itís nice to be able to take a trip to the famous department store Harrods when Iím in London to try and pick up a couple of extra outfits! Heh... if Gweneth Paltrow can look good in London, so can I.

On court I like to look my best too and Iím lucky that Nike allows me to have quite a bit of input into what I wear, and this year Iíve been working on a new dress just for Wimbledon, so Iím real excited about that too.

As well as working on my grass court game, my preparations might also involve a walk on Wimbledon common this year too. Yeah, you did read that right. Just before the Championships last year, I accidentally stepped in, well, letís just say something a rabbit had left behind! And I didnít even realise until someone mentioned the smell! But after what happened out on court last year, Iím treating it as my lucky omen. So if you see me out on the common just before the event begins, youíll know what Iím looking for!


Birthday Party in the Big Apple
22-April-2005
Iím the first to appreciate that not many people my age have the luxury of an A-list, star-studded 18th birthday party arranged by their sponsor Motorola. They really went out of their way to create such a cool evening for myself, my friends and all the celebs they invited.

The day of the party Ė 10 days before my actual birthday which is on April 19 Ė was the most amazing day and one Iíll never forget Ė exactly what an 18th birthday should be!

The whole experience was everything I could of dream of and more. We took a private jet up to New York City from Florida for the bash (big pimpin'), where Iíd just reached the final of the NASDAQ-100 in Miami.

Being a tennis player means a lot of the time I donít get much of a chance to get glammed up so Iíd already decided I was gonna make the most of this opportunity (especially if my parents weren't going to be around... actually my Mom was there).


I had a stylist help me choose my dress, which was designed by Nicole Miller, and my hair and make-up were taken care of before jumping in a limo to head for the Hiro Ballroom. You have to see this place if you're ever in NYC....
I had to fight my way past the paparazzi and take a couple of interviews but trust me... it was definitely worth it.

Something else I find from spending so much time involved in tennis is that I donít get much chance to meet people from other walks of life and I was lucky enough to hook up with some really cool people from the world of music, TV and film that came along. Motorola really pulled out all the stops and ensured there was a cool vibe at this place.

The night itself was fantastic. Motorola hired one of my favorite bands to play a private set for all of us. I got to hang out with them for a little while after their show. I couldn't believe how nervous I was to talk to them, but they were pretty chill so after I calmed down a bit we had a nice chat and were able relax just before the DJ started.

One of the other things Motorola pulled together for me (aren't they nice?) was a cool VIP area to use for me and my friends. All the food and drinks were free and Motorola gave me a Pebl v6 phone. I already have a Razr, but who doesn't want a new Pebl? Have you heard or seen these phones? They're soooo cool.

The most amazing cake had been made for me too. it was in the shape of a tennis stadium, and it took me three attempts to blow out all the candles Ė I guess thatís only gonna get harder as I begin to get older!

One of the best things about the whole couple of days, though, was being able to spend some time with my old friends. I miss them SO bad when Iím away on the Tour and having them with me in New York made a special day one that Iíll always remember.

You'll be hearing from me a lot in the future, so make sure you check back often!
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Old Aug 9th, 2005, 02:13 PM   #161
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A nice compliment from Dementieva in here -


Sharapova nears top ranking, eyes long-term domination
Tue Aug 9, 2005 3:43 AM BST

By Matthew Cronin

CARSON, California, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Three victories away from becoming the first Russian woman to attain the number one ranking, Maria Sharapova insists she is more interested in staying at the top than reaching the pinnacle in the first place.

"I know I say this all the time, but I am 18 and it's more important that I'm fully ready to remain number one as long as I can," Sharapova told Reuters on Monday.

"Being there for a week would give me pride, but not as much as staying there for the long term."

Top seeded at this week's JP Morgan Chase Open, Sharapova needs to reach the semi-finals to overhaul American Lindsay Davenport and become the first player from her country to climb to the top of women's tennis.

Last year's Wimbledon champion has a first round bye before a tricky path to the top ranking begins in the second round with a match against her best friend on tour, Maria Kirilenko.

Sharapova could then face 16th seeded compatriot Anna Chakvetadze or possibly the in-form Sania Mirza of India.

Should she advance to the quarter-finals, the ninth seeded Daniela Hantuchova appears likely to be the woman standing between the Russian and the top ranking.

Sharapova realises that the closer she gets to achieving the feat the more questions she will be have to answer about it.

"It's just something else I have to hear," she said. "It's all about locking it out. I've been close before and I'm close now, but I'm not looking at it as a one-week thing."

Whether or not she achieves it this week, the fact a Russian is so close to the milestone is something Sharapova's compatriot Elena Dementieva is all too aware of.

"It's such a big goal for every player that sometimes when you get so close, you can't reach it," the sixth-ranked Dementieva said.

"But I think she can do it and will really deserve it. We all wanted to be the first Russian player to be number one. It means a lot to us and I'm still trying to reach that goal, even if she does it first."

WEAKEST SURFACE

At this event two years ago, Belgium's Kim Clijsters was in a similar position to Sharapova when she had to take the title to become number one for the first time and victory over Davenport in the final was enough to enable her to achieve the goal.

"I didn't think about it until the third set of the final, but I didn't let it influence me," this year's fifth seed said.

"You think about it off court, but I was able to push it aside on court. Maria is very focused on court and I'm sure she won't have any problems with it."

Sharapova was on the verge of taking the number one ranking in May, but came up short at tournaments in Berlin, Rome and the French Open.

However, those events were held on her weakest surface, clay, and the JP Morgan Chase Open is played on hard courts, where she has won titles before.

The task will not be an easy one though, given that Sharapova has been suffering from a lower back injury that forced her to pull out of last week's San Diego Classic.

Knowing that Davenport was out injured (the American also misses this week's event), Sharapova looked destined to claim the top ranking but opted to rest rather than risk damaging her back further.

"My back wasn't that bad, it was just tight and I didn't want to start playing San Diego with a tight back," Sharapova said.

"I was still practicing and doing more strength training. It was more important to have another week of preparation.

"If I wanted number one so bad, I would have played last week, but I wanted to make sure I'm healthy and that I'm ready for the U.S. Open (starting on August 29)."
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Old Aug 10th, 2005, 06:59 AM   #162
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Sharapova aims for No. 1
Russian tennis star has a chance to claim the world's top ranking with a trip to the semifinals at the JPMorgan Chase Open.
By Tony Ciniglio
DAILY BREEZE

Teen queen Maria Sharapova is about to don another crown.

At age 18, the Russian superstar has already won a Wimbledon title, the season-ending WTA Championships and posted a top-five finish in the rankings. She has looks that kill and an even deadlier ground game. Her marketability is rising faster than her game, and that's quite a statement.



Sharapova, however, can reach an elite milestone at this week's JPMorgan Chase Open at Home Depot Center. If she advances to the semifinals, the top-seeded Russian will overtake Lindsay Davenport for the No. 1 ranking in the world. If that happens, Sharapova would be the fifth youngest player to be ranked No. 1 and the first Russian. She would be the 15th No. 1 player in WTA history since 1975.

Take that, Anna Kournikova.

Sharapova, however, does not want to be a one-hit wonder.

"I've always dreamed about being the best and being a champion, but I want to make sure that once I'm No. 1, I stay at No. 1," Sharapova said. "I don't want to get there, only to give it up. Plus, I'm only 18, so I've still got my whole career ahead of me."

Sharapova begins her quest for No. 1 tonight after a first-round bye when she takes on countrywoman and close friend Maria Kirilenko, a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 comeback winner on Monday over former Stanford star Marissa Irvin.

Sharapova is trying to do what Kim Clijsters did at the 2003 JP Morgan Chase Open, where she became the world's No. 1 player after winning the Carson tournament.

From her own experience, Clijsters said she expects Sharapova can handle the rigors of being the No. 1 player.

"It was a dream come true, but for me, things didn't change that much," said Clijsters, the fifth seed at this year's tournament. "That's where your management comes in.

"For Maria, she's already got some great sponsorships, and all of that shows what a great tennis player she is. She's not like Anna (Kournikova), who was focused only on the endorsements. Maria has both the endorsements and the tennis."

It seems Sharapova has more cameras on her than a reality-television star, as evidenced by her appearance at the WTA's All-Access Hour on Monday.

Whether Sharapova ascends to the No. 1 spot this week or later this season, she said she knows the demands will increase, both on and off the court.

"It's not very fun when in training, you go for five hours, you come home and you're exhausted. Then it's like ... it's only Monday. There are six more days this week," said Sharapova, who pulled out of last week's Acura Classic in Carlsbad due to a lower back strain.

Mary Pierce, who's still competing at age 30 and won the Acura Classic title last week, said the current crop of top young players will have a shorter tennis lifespan.

"Women's tennis is tougher than it ever was before. The girls are training harder and are faster and stronger," Pierce said. "This generation of players, I don't see them playing more than 10 years. It's so demanding."

Despite the rigors, Sharapova said she wants to maintain a long career.

"Even though there are some tough days, I still love it," Sharapova said. "I want to play until I feel I've had enough, and that won't be for a while, maybe until I'm 30.

"But at the same time, I don't want to be 35 and not have a family. There's more to life, and there's so much I want to explore and experience."

Sharapova definitely has a style of her own.

She is an aspiring fashion designer and said she wants to attend fashion design school. She is only three classes away from earning her high school degree through an online course, trudging through chemistry and economics after having just recently completed algebra.

"I love fashion and I love designing, but I'm a terrible drawer," Sharapova said. "When I have great ideas, I have to try to incorporate them with friends."

Sharapova's popularity with fans was evident on Monday, which was Maria Sharapova Bobblehead Night at Home Depot Center.

The collectibles didn't look much like Sharapova, though, but she didn't seem to mind.

"You just have to laugh at that. It's not something to take seriously," Sharapova said.
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Old Aug 10th, 2005, 02:18 PM   #163
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title in english"The bee Sharapova is flying to the third round" copyright Nouf! :-)
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Old Aug 10th, 2005, 05:26 PM   #164
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Мария Шарапова сделала первый шаг к званию первой ракетки мира. Во втором круге теннисного турнира в Лос-Анджелесе "сибирская сирена" обыграла свою лучшую подругу россиянку Марию Кириленко - со счетом 7:6 (9:7), 6:2. Для Шараповой этот матч стал первым после затяжных каникул, которые Маша устроила себе после выхода в полуфинал Уимблдона.

Нужно сказать, что выходить из отпуска всегда тяжело Ė необходимо время на "раскачку". Именно так и произошло в случае с Шараповой. Мыслимое ли дело, чтобы Маша три раза на харде проигрывала свою подачу? В поединке с тезкой Кириленко "королева стонов" трижды в первом сете уступала на собственной подаче и трижды находила в себе силы отыграться. В итоге судьба партии решилась на тай-брейке, в котором со счетом 9:7 победила чемпионка Уимблдона-2004.

Во втором сете вопросов о победителе даже не возникало. Проиграв первый гейм, Шарапова затем взяла пять геймов подряд и повела 5:1. Итоговый счет Ė 6:2 в пользу пока еще второй ракетки мира. Матч продолжался полтора часа, включая время на медицинский перерыв, который вынуждена была взять Кириленко во второй партии: у нее начались боли в правом локте.

"Поверьте, первый матч после затяжного перерыва всегда складывается тяжело, - отметила Шарапова после окончания игры. Ė Вы можете тренироваться хоть 24 часа в сутки, но когда дело доходит до реальной игры и тебе противостоит сильный соперник, то все оборачивается совершенно неожиданным образом. Пока моя главная задача Ė почувствовать игру на этом покрытии".

Мария скромно сказала, что ее сейчас больше интересует победа на отдельно взятом турнире, чем звание первой ракетки мира. Впрочем, до него не так уж и далеко. Шараповой нужно всего лишь выйти в полуфинал, то есть выиграть еще два матча. Тогда турнир в Лос-Анджелесе войдет в число 17 лучших для Маши по итогам 52 недель, и рейтинговые очки, набранные на турнире, пойдут в зачет рейтинга Wta.

"Я знаю, что звания первой ракетки добивались немногие теннисистки, но для меня гораздо важнее быть первой всерьез и надолго, чем встать во главе мирового рейтинга за счет сопутствующих обстоятельств Ė травм соперниц, удачного выступления на каких-то турнирах, - отметила Шарапова. Ė Можно порадоваться тому, что станешь первой в мире на неделю, но гордиться можно, только если будешь удерживаться на вершине как можно дольше".

Кстати, следующей соперницей Шараповой может стать еще одна россиянка Ė Анна Чакветадзе. В том случае, конечно, если в матче второго круга обыграет чешку Ивету Бенешову. На открытом чемпионате Франции в нынешнем году Чакветадзе и Шарапова провели единственный пока свой матч. Победа досталась Марии, но в какой борьбе! С Бенешовой Шарапова пока еще не играла.

Правда, в турнирной части сетки среди соперниц у Маши много соотечественниц, а играть с ними всегда тяжелее, чем с кем-то другим. Многие журналисты (в основном российски гоняются за любым фактом, говорящим об ухудшении отношений между Шараповой и кем-то из российских теннисисток. Но на все вопросы очень достойный ответ дала Елена Дементьева, также играющая в Лос-Анджелесе.


"Для любой теннисистки мира звание первой ракетки является основной целью в карьере, - подчеркнула она. Ė Я буду болеть за Машу Шарапову, чтобы ей удалось добиться этого успеха. Ведь еще никогда в истории российская теннисистка не поднималась на вершину мирового рейтинга. Я тоже постараюсь этого достичь, но Маша, скорее всего, сделает это раньше".
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Old Aug 11th, 2005, 04:48 PM   #165
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Sharapova, others have shot at Open

By Matthew Cronin
Special to ESPN.com
Archive





Although Maria Sharapova could become the world's top-ranked player this week at the JP Morgan Chase Open in Carson, Calif., it certainly hasn't been a dominant year for a group of players who combined to snare four out of five major titles and the Fed Cup crown last year.

In 2004, Anastasia Myskina won the French Open, Sharapova won Wimbledon and the WTA Championships, and Svetlana Kuznetsova took the U.S. Open.




Maria Sharapova can't believe she's going to the ball.




But this year, no Russian player has made it to a Grand Slam final.

"It's very difficult to win three Grand Slams again," said Elena Dementieva, who reached the French Open and U.S. Open finals last year. "Life is not that way, it's up and down. But it hasn't been a bad year for Russian players, we've had some good results. It's not over yet."

It's certainly not for Sharapova, who will renew her four-month-long quest for the top ranking this week. And it's not for fourth-ranked Kuznetsova, who believes she can get back on track in time for the U.S. Open. The same goes for No. 6 Dementieva, who also believes she can reach No. 1.

In fact, the Russians are looking very good on paper as the top four seeds in Carson -- Sharapova, Kuznetsova, Dementieva and ninth-ranked Nadia Petrova. Four more Russian players were seeded in the rest of the tournament's top 16.

With top-ranked Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams out with injuries and Venus Williams out of action with what she called a case of the flu, no Americans are seeded in the tournament.

"Russians are looking pretty tough right now. Look at this draw. What would they do without Russian players?" Dementieva asked with a laugh.

Tournaments can cheer the bold bunch from Eastern Europe all they want, but the reality is that most of them haven't yet shown they have real staying power among the sport's elite.

"It's already a big achievement to have a Grand Slam title under your belt," said Petrova, who has never won a WTA singles crown. "If you can do it year after year, you are a goddess."

No one in this group has shown herself to be an on-court deity, although the wildly popular Sharapova has reached ethereal status in earnings off the court. She had a bobble-head doll cast in her image this week, although she agrees it looks nothing like her. "You just have to laugh at it."

She also has had a decent year on court, winning three titles and reaching the second week of every Grand Slam. But at the majors, she has shown vulnerability -- losing a chance at a berth in the final to eventual winner Serena in Australia, being schooled by eventual champ Justine Henin-Hardenne in the French quarterfinals and, last month, she couldn't find a way to punch through Venus' steely defense in the Wimbledon semis.

"I told myself not to look back," Sharapova told ESPN.com . "Of course I wanted to do everything possible to win Wimbledon because it's my favorite tournament, but [Venus] played amazing.

"I did everything possible on that day and maybe if it was on another, I would have been able to do more, but it was one of those one- or two-point things that happen. I have to look ahead."

Sharapova can't afford to look back because her last chance at a major tournament achievement is just weeks around the corner at the Open. If she is going to win in New York, she's going to have to step up her slow hard-court game.

She has won only one Tier II title on outdoor cement in her career, and Mary Pierce relentlessly pounded shots at her while Sharapova stared into space at last year's Open.

Her results against the top players on U.S. hard courts have not been spectacular, either. She was shut out against Davenport back in March in the Indian Wells semis, then was outrun by Kim Clijsters in the Miami final.

Sharapova admitted that the deluge of attention she received after winning last year's Wimbledon title overwhelmed her.

"It was different situation last year," she said. "Things were too hectic for me, and I couldn't really find myself mentally with all that was going around me. It wasn't me out there. Now it's totally different. I've had a whole year of learning, especially against top players."

She's a very powerful, clean hitter with a big serve and bullet return, but still can be exposed on the run. Her balance of offense and defense hasn't been constant, and on slow hard courts, that matters a great deal.

"I have to make sure that I'm not always going for winners," said Sharapova, who has never won a U.S. outdoor hard-court title. "There's a lot of variety in the game, but that's not going to take away from my main game, my pride. I'm not all of a sudden [going to] become a totally defensive player, but I am going to put little things into my game that are going to make me a better player."

Even if Sharapova finds her stamina, Kuznetsova finds her drive, Dementieva finds her serve, Petrova finds her nerve and Myskina rediscovers her love of the game, it may not matter in New York.

Four of the game's most celebrated players -- the Williams sisters, Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters -- were either hurt, sick or in a slump last year. The door was left wide open. Now, the Russians are going to have to jar it open once again.

"This year, there are other players coming back & ," Petrova said. "It's not that wide open for us anymore, but it's still going well.

"We're not going away."
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