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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

ROLAND GARROS: Maria Sharapova Interview - Saturday, May 28, 2005

/ Q. You won very easily today, but are you happy with the way you played?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I am. I thought I got to a really good start, and I was in control from the first game. I felt like it was a pretty tough first game, but after that I was pretty much in control.

Maria Sharapova

Q. How do you feel the field is opening up for you now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think as the rounds go on, it's going to be a lot tougher than it is right now. So I know that as the matches go on, I have to raise my level another notch. But I guess when you play a tougher opponent, that naturally comes and you naturally raise your level higher.

Q. Talk about the second week mentality at Grand Slams and how you approach them.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just everything's tougher ? the matches are going to be tougher, you're going to feel physically more tired. But, you know, the tougher it gets, the more prepared you have to be. So mentally and physically, it's more draining. It's tougher, of course. But that's what it's all about, and that's how the best, you know, are the best.

Q. Are you naturally fired up? Do you have to try to keep yourself a little more composed so your game goes the way you want it to?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I can be pretty down on myself sometimes. I think that's one thing that I don't want to be doing, because there's really no point. I just try to tell myself, "Keep calm even though things are not going your way." You just have to mentally be ready and be prepared to fight it out and do whatever you can.

Q. After Venus' defeat last night, do you think women's tennis has seen the best of the Williams sisters right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's so hard to tell. I don't know. I really don't.

Q. Do you look beyond the French to Wimbledon at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I just take it one tournament at a time.

Q. So you're into the last 16. It's a little inappropriate to ask why clay is your most difficult surface, but perhaps you can talk a little bit about that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, why, because the ball doesn't fly as fast on this surface. A lot of balls are brought back, and I just feel that ?? I mean, I'm a lot better than last year, but I still don't think I'm patient and I still need to be more patient. I need to realize that I can't go for winners that quickly. Some balls are not so comfortable to go for. I feel like sometimes I hit too much of a flat shot when I need to, you know, just bring it back, because really my opponent is in the same situation where not every ball is going to be a winner.

Q. Do you enjoy playing on the clay?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I do enjoy it. I've said this before, I think it teaches a lot about the game and it shows my weaknesses. These are the things that, you know, I'll look back on a tape and I'll see the things that I need to work on. Last year, that's exactly what happened. You know, I felt like I was playing really good tennis, but in the quarterfinals I just ?? you know, I felt like the conditions were really heavy. But I was really slow and I wasn't moving well and I was tired. Yes, it was my first time in a quarterfinal, but that really showed me what I need to work on, that experience, that mentality toughened me up for the Wimbledon.

Q. Just going back to events of yesterday evening, did you watch Venus' match against Sesil?

Q. Were you surprised to hear the result when you were told it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think Sesil can be very dangerous at times. You know, when I played her in the first round of the Australian, I knew it was not going to be an easy match. She qualified and she can, you know - - I think she still has a lot of things to improve in her game, but, I mean, she's already got big weapons and she has big ground strokes. She can work a lot on her serve. But, you know, at 15 years old, when you have weapons already, of course, you know, it's not gonna be an easy match.

Q. Early in the week we were a bit surprised when Roger Federer told us he doesn't think it's a very good idea for the US Open to have replay, as you probably know they were planning to do so - still planning to do so. One of the reasons, he thought it was a knee? jerk reaction to the Serena Williams? Capriati match from last year, which he said at that time in the third set really didn't have anything to do with the outcome, so why are we having replay. What are your views on replay?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it can definitely help the game because as you see on the clay courts, when an opponent doesn't agree with the shot, the umpire can just go and check the mark and there you go, there's the proof. So if it's accurate enough and if it is, then that is why we are going to use it; if it's not accurate, there's no reason to use it. But if it's accurate, I don't see a reason why. It's just a person's not going to go into a press conference and say, The umpire cheated me on that. You're not gonna have an excuse anymore. I think that's great because the game deserves to be fair.

Q. Has your life changed more or less than you thought it would have done since you won Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely changed more. That's a fact.

Q. More than you thought it would?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely. Well, I never thought about it. I never thought of winning Wimbledon at such a young age. Of course, when you don't know what to expect, everything takes you by surprise, especially the win.

Q. Following on from that, have you had to grow up extraordinarily fast carrying that Wimbledon championship, being more easily recognized, dealing with fame?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course. But I think naturally I've been able to handle that. I think from a very young age, even though I didn't win Wimbledon when I was 15, a lot of people were expecting a lot from me. A lot of people thought that I was gonna do great ? maybe not at such a young age, but they always thought I would. I've always been pretty mature with things. I realized that tennis is my No. 1 priority. I realize that I also have, you know, a lot of different opportunities in my life as well, but I know the balance between those things. And I've just - - you know, I have an amazing group around me that has taught me also to be mature and, you know, has guided me through life, especially my parents. So that's very important.

Q. I saw you were wrapped with tape from yesterday. How is that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I sprained my ankle in my previous match at the beginning of the match. It was all right. But yesterday it was really sore. So it's still sore. I felt it was okay with the tape today, but it's something that I have to tape every match now I think.

Q. What's the hardest part for you of fame to deal with?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm... just walking around with a few more bodyguards than before. I usually don't like to walk around with people that have to protect me, but now it's just become normal and something that I've had to deal with. I've always - - you know, I've always been a pretty independent person, and, you know, when you have too many people around you, I wasn't really comfortable with it at first. Then, you know, it's just natural. I don't like it when the bodyguards have to push people away from me to walk. I just ?? you know, at the beginning I felt like I was just too much of a prima donna. You just have to realize that it's just part of the game, it's for your own protection.

Q. You're considerably world No. 1. What's more important to you: Being world No. 1 or having $10 million in the bank?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think when you become No. 1, you'll get a lot more than $10 million in the bank. So that's not a problem for me right now (laughing).


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