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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Maria Sharapova Reach Wimbledon Semis

Maria Sharapova defeated eighth-ranked Nadia Petrova 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 today.

Maria Sharapova

"Finishing off the match gave me shivers down my body," - said Maria who had beaten Petrova in their only other previous clash in Los Angeles in 2003. It's so good to be in the semifinals again.'' "Nadia has a big serve and a big game and she's always dangerous. But I got through and I was ready for every shot."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Maria Sharapova Interview

Q. Were you disappointed in a way that the second set wasn't a bit tougher today?

Q. The second set.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Was it tougher? No, the first set.

Maria Sharapova

Q. Were you disappointed it wasn't tougher?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm sorry, I thought you said it was tougher. No, I thought I picked it up from the first set. She was playing really well the first probably six games, and I was ?? you know, I was making a few errors when I shouldn't have, but still felt like I was in it, still felt pretty confident on my serve. You know, I felt like if I could put some pressure on her return, then I'd get a break, serve it out. That's exactly what I did. Second set, I just didn't make as many errors and was getting better and better.

Q. Do you feel generally that your game is progressing through the tournament the way you'd like it to?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, especially in today's match. As the match went on, I think I played better and better. I played a different opponent than the round before, a little bit different ? not as big of a serve, but more consistent. But overall, yeah, playing better.

Q. Can you compare to last year when you were here, do you feel you're playing better now? How are you feeling in terms of having done what you did last year? Is it different?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's so hard to compare it to last year because last year I was in a totally different situation. I was happy to be in the second week of a Grand Slam. This year I'm expecting myself to be in the second week of a Grand Slam. It's hard to say. But overall I'm really excited to be in the second week of a Grand Slam, of course. You know, no matter how I do, I'm excited to be in the quarters.

Q. Do you look at the performances of the other women? Serena and Justine have gone out. Were you surprised by those defeats? Where do you see the danger now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just try to focus on my next opponent. You know, obviously those are big upsets. But, you know, I mean, that happens in tennis. Like I said, the level of tennis is really high right now. You know, players like that can cause upsets. You just have to be on top of your game and be able to tough it out every single match. You've got to be mentally and physically ready for it. What was the second question?

Q. Where do you see the danger now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I don't know if Petrova is winning. I think she was 3?Love up. I don't know if she won. Did she? I don't know. What's the score?

Q. She's not won yet, 4:2 up.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Played her a long time ago. Big game, big serve. You know, obviously it's going to be another tough match. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. How much better do you feel your game is this year than it was last year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Game?wise, I think I'm a much more experienced player. You know, technically?wise, I don't think there was a big need of improvement. But I think experience?wise and confidence?wise, in certain situations I feel like, you know, I've been in that situation before, and I feel like I manage it a lot better.

Q. Do I understand you made a complaint about photographers taking your picture when you're practicing on the practice courts? Is that not part and parcel?

Q. You haven't made an official complaint. We understood you've made an official complaint about having your picture taken on the practice courts.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's something new to me. I learn something every day over here. God (laughter).

Q. Everybody talks about the second week of Wimbledon. They up the ante. Does that just happen naturally or do you walk out and go, "Second week of Wimbledon, I better get serious now"?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, every Grand Slam is like that. I mean, Grand Slams are for two weeks. Once you're in the second week, mentally and physically you've got to be a lot tougher. You know, matches from now on are going to get tougher and you've just got to be ready. But overall I'm excited to be in the second week of a Grand Slam. Great opportunity to go even further.

Q. You can't concentrate about the next match straightaway. Do you go away, forget about your next match until tomorrow?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess you just try to rest, you know, try to ?? I go in the locker room, go talk with my team, see what I think I need to improve for the next match. For the rest of the day, I basically forget about tennis and just relax, you know, try to forget about it as much as I can. Because, you know, once you're on the tennis court, you've got to give it all you've got out there.

Q. Do you find the British people here at Wimbledon quite supportive of international players? Should London win the Olympic bid, would this be a good place to host the event?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, the English people are really ?? are really excited about the English, that's for sure. No doubt about it. But it's great. It's normal, I mean, when you have so much support going for your country and for the people that play for it. Obviously, it's very important. I'm actually running for the Moscow bid, so I don't want to give you guys any credit (laughter). I don't know. It would be exciting either way it goes. Every Olympics is amazing. Hopefully I can take it home.

Q. Do you think Wimbledon is a good place to host a tennis tournament for the Olympics?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it would be amazing. I don't know if it would be on grass. If it will be, yeah, of course. For me, it would be great.

Q. It's said the courts here are playing slower and slower. Is that true? If so, does that place an extra task upon you to adapt?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, I haven't really paid too much attention to it. Now as I think about it, maybe it has a little bit. I don't know what that has to do with the height of the grass or whatever. I have no idea. You know, if it's slower for me, it's slower for my opponent. There's not too much you can do about it. I'm not going to go and cut the grass during the night.

Q. A year ago, saying you were thrilled to be in the second week, now you expect to be. Does that make the whole thing a little less fun and more job?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it doesn't make it more of a job. But, you know, I kind of expect myself ?? I go into a tournament and, you know, sort of expect myself to be there for a longer period of time. You know, it's normal now. I mean, it's still a lot of fun. I enjoy it. Of course, every single match I go out there and I give everything I've got just because I enjoy it. I love being out there. I love competing, especially here.

Q. Less of an adventure?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Less of an adventure? I don't know. It's hard to say. It's totally different. That's why I don't know. It's hard to say what the difference is. I'm not making sense, am I?

Maria Sharapova powered into the quarter-finals at Wimbledon on Monday, demolishing 16th seed Nathalie Dechy of France 6-4 6-2 in Court One sunshine.

Maria Sharapova

“Once you are in the second week mentally and physically you have to be much tougher. But I’m really excited ... I love being out there. I love competing especially here.”

Monday, June 27, 2005

Maria Sharapova Interview - Day 6

Q. A bit different to your first two matches out there today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, a lot tougher I think. The score doesn't say much about the match. It was a lot tougher than it seemed. Even though I was up in the first set, thought that she was able, you know, to come up with some good shots and put me in difficult situations. But I was able to, uhm, serve well when I needed to, even though I wasn't serving quite well throughout the whole match. But even in the second set, she had the opportunity to come back into the match. She had four breakpoints at the end of the match. I was able to hit really good first serves. That was the key.

Maria Sharapova

Q. Heard you mumble under your breath, "The courts are slower." Are they that much slower than last year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't say that.

Q. You didn't say that?

Q. Must have been my interpretation of Russian.

Q. Your thoughts on that? Are they slower?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Today they were definitely slower just because of the conditions. But, uhm, the air is heavier. The balls don't fly as fast through the air. The previous days it was really hot, so the pace of the shots we're going through the air a lot faster. Today the situation's different. But just have to adjust.

Q. How would you compare your thoughts after week one of this year's tournament with being through week one last year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think last year I was really excited to be in the second week of a Grand Slam, and this year, I expect myself to be in the second week of a Grand Slam. So, of course, it's different. But I still feel really happy to be in the second week of a Grand Slam, no doubt about that.

Q. Were you surprised by the challenge that she gave you today or were you pleased because your first two rounds were very easy and you have tough challenges ahead of you. You needed a good workout, didn't you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: For sure. I enjoyed having those tough situations where your opponent puts you in tough situations, especially in the early rounds. If you don't have those positions, you know, in later rounds you get to that point and, you know, you might be a little bit struck by it. Like I said, it was definitely a tough match. Every single point, I needed to find a way to win it. You know, she can be a very dangerous opponent, especially on grass. She has a great grass court game, big serve, has a great chip, comes into the net a lot.
Of course, it's going to be difficult.

Q. In Japan we print stamps with you. All this publicity is helping you to climb to No. 1 of the world ranking?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Those things definitely don't help me to become No. 1. What helps me to become No. 1 is the hard work I put in on the practice courts. Not the stamps, that's for sure.

Q. Anything you weren't happy with today in terms of your game? You seemed to fly away at the start. A lot of the games after that were pretty tough?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I thought I could have served better at the beginning of the games. I was able to serve well when I needed to. You know, it's better to start off serving well and getting an advantage rather than waiting for the whole game and being down a breakpoint to start serving well. A lot of that had to do with the conditions. Maybe I thought I needed to go for a little bit more because, you know, the serve didn't have as much penetration as the other days. You know, it's all right. Still got through it without serving great.

Q. Pretty satisfied then?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, pretty satisfied.

Q. Going to be tougher to defend it than win it, isn't it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course. It's never easy. I'm just excited to be a defending champion rather than, you know, losing first round last year and coming here.

Q. What about the atmosphere out there? Did you feel it took a little while to warm up? Usually a lot of excitement when you appear.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, atmosphere's always great for me. I always feel excited to play in front of a Wimbledon crowd. But I try to block a lot of that out when I step out onto the court.

Q. What is the more fun? You said you came here last year not expecting to get into the second round. This year you did expect to. Last year was sort of a joyous journey into the unknown. This year you want to win it and you almost expect to win it.

Q. Does that remove some of the fun or does it make it more fun?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Every experience is a different challenge and every year is a different challenge. Obviously, last year I didn't have ?? not a lot of people expected me to win the title, and I did. That was exciting. But it's also really exciting coming back as a defending champion. It's a great feeling to have, something that you'll always cherish forever. But, you know, it's a different challenge, of course. Every tournament's going to be a different challenge, different opponent. But that's why I play tennis, because of these challenges. I enjoy difficult, different challenges, yeah.

Q. You're very good at blocking things out. Do you pay any attention to the rest of the tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just my next round.
Q. You're not looking over here to see how Venus and Serena are doing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I mean, I can look at the score board and see the score, but it doesn't really...

Q. Do you watch the men?

Q. Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not a lot. I like when there are going to be exciting matches. But not a lot, no.

Q. What was your reaction earlier this week when Martina said you should focus less on publicity and more on tennis?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, well, you know, I pretty much am in control of the things I focus on. I feel like I've balanced that really well in the past. You know, I'm No. 2 in the world. And I don't think so far anything has distracted me. It's hard to say. I don't really want to change anything right now because I feel really satisfied, you know, with how hard and how much I work on the court, and then what I do off the court. I'm still enjoying it. Like I said, if I wouldn't be enjoying anything that I did off the court, I really won be doing it.

Q. You're going to be playing the winner of Dechy and Bondarenko who play later on this afternoon. Can you share your thoughts with us on how difficult a match it might be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think Dechy would probably be the favorite to win that match, but you never know. I played Dechy maybe once before. Actually, I played her on grass a few years ago in Birmingham. But a lot of things have changed since then: her game, my game. It's going to be a new experience. I know a little bit about how she plays, but it's not really about how your opponent plays; it's about your game.

Q. Can you imagine it being the next step up, perhaps?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, always the next rounds are going to be tougher and tougher.

Q. Can you describe what you'll do this weekend in preparation for week two?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Rest, read. Nothing special.

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Maria Sharapova moved into the last 16
Maria Sharapova moved into the last 16 at Wimbledon on Saturday with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia.

Maria Sharapova

"It was a lot tougher than it seemed," said Maria. "She was able to put me in difficult situations and had four break points in the second set, but I came up with big first serves and that was the key."

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Friday, June 24, 2005

YOU can now play the superb Maria Sharapova tennis game on your mobile. And to celebrate a great opportunity we have a Superbabes special featuring pictures of the Russian lovely.

Maria Sharapova

You can carry the darling of the tennis world around in your pocket.
Maria Sharapova Tennis lets you compete across four Grand Slam tournaments with a range of shots and court surfaces. We also have loads of fantastic pictures of Maria Sharapova that you can download and keep on your mobile.

click here


Maria, who is busy defending her title at Wimbledon, is at the same time coming back to her beloved Japan -- in the form of postage stamps.

Maria Sharapova

Japan Post said Wednesday that it will start receiving advanced orders later this week for stamps of the 18-year-old Maria Sharapova, who has won three of her 10 singles titles in Japan. Each sheet costs 3,150 yen (29 dollars) and carries 10 stamps of 80 yen each along with a collector's picture of the starlet. Maria captured her first career WTA singles and doubles titles at the 2003 Japan Open here. She also also won her first professional title in the ITF Circuit series in Gunma, north of Tokyo, in 2002.

Defending champion Maria Sharapova posted second-round victories Thursday at Wimbledon. Maria registered her 19th straight win on grass with a 46-minute 6-0, 6-1 triumph Bulgarian Sesil Karatantcheva.

Maria Sharapova

Such was the extent of the Russian star's dominance, shу allowed her 15-year-old opponent only four points throughout a second set which lasted all of 19 minutes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Her 18 carat gold shoes sparkled in Wimbledon sunshine as Maria Sharapova opened her title defence, but despite a one-sided scoreline her tennis was of a lesser lustre on Centre Court.

Maria Sharapova

Maria moved into the second round 6-2 6-2.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Maria Interview

THE MODERATOR: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for coming to this pre Championship's press conference on a very sunny day. We hope we're going to get another 13 of them. Keep our fingers crossed. Great pleasure in presenting the Wimbledon ladies' champion of 2004, Maria Sharapova. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Maria for coming today and also for what you've been doing for us. Thank you very much, indeed.

Who would like to ask the first question?

Q. How does it feel walking through those gates for the first time as defending champion?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Very amazing. Obviously brings back a lot of great memories. This was a very fun time last year. So coming back, a lot of memories going through my mind, yeah. Coming back to this press conference (smiling)...

Maria Sharapova

Q. Yesterday Serena said that she beat herself; you didn't do much. She threw the match away. What do you say to that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That match was a whole year ago, so, you know, that's past. We're in the present. I really don't want to talk about last year any more.

Q. Is it as emotional for you this time around?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's more ?? you know, it's exciting because I've always had great success at this tournament. You know, every time I come back, it just feels like a special place ? especially winning it. You know, getting back out on the courts and practicing, I just enjoy it whenever I come back here.

Q. Can you talk about coming back to Wimbledon as the defending champion, the No. 2 seed, versus last year when you were seeded 14th, not a lot to lose. Talk about the challenges of coming back here this year.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, obviously it's going to be a lot harder to defend than winning, you know, than winning it for the first time. I've heard that many times. Last year I was 17 years old, and who expected me to win? You know, this year I'm 18, I've had so much more experience behind my back, and I love the surface. Obviously, there are going to be more expectations, and that's absolutely normal for a player that's No. 2 in the world.

But I'm just going to go out and enjoy myself, not worry about anything else that's going on, and just have fun and just take it all in.

Q. Do you feel there's also some advantage because of the fact that you've done it and you know you can do it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Every time I step onto grass, you know, I feel confident just because I feel like, you know, it really suits my game. You never know what can happen obviously on a certain day. But I feel like I have a bigger advantage against a lot of my opponents and I feel really good, confident.

Q. What has been the highlight of the year since you won?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I won The Championships. You mean tennis?wise, everything?

Q. Yes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think winning The Championships also meant a lot, just because, you know, the top players in the world are playing. They've had the best results in the year. And being able to do that, you know, I was so tired at the end of the year. I really thought I couldn't play another match, but I kept giving it all I had. You know, that was also a great moment.

Q. What do you say to those people who say that you make too much noise when you play?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, I can't really control people's judgments. It's really none of my business to control what people think.

You know, I just ?? I don't really think about it. I've said this before. It's sort of an old story, so there's no big point talking about it.

Q. How do you feel about the news that there's a British stalker who has been banned from The Championships? Does that scare you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I haven't heard about that. I don't read the papers or anything.

Q. There's a report that there's somebody who tried to lunge at you before. Won't be here this year. Are you scared of stalkers in general?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I have five bodyguards walking around with me all the time. I feel secure. I'm always surrounded by people. You know, I feel safe, so...

Q. Any player who is your biggest threat this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: There's not one in particular. I think the level of women's tennis is quite high right now. I think a player from the Top 10, a player from the Top 20 can be dangerous. You don't see in the first week of a Grand Slam players having 1 and 2 matches all the time. You know, a lot of the matches are tough, you can face a tough opponent. You might have to play three sets.

But anyone can be dangerous. You know, it's really hard to say.

Q. Do you feel you're a better grass court player now than a year ago?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think just because you don't play on grass so much, you don't really have so much time to practice on it. I mean, after the French, I only practiced three days until I started playing first round at Birmingham. You know, it's hard to say if ??

I'm a better player by itself, but on grass, you know, it's really hard to say without having so much time to practice on it.

Q. When you've had such great results somewhere and you come back, do you like to keep the same routine, do the same thing, stay in the same place, go to the same restaurants?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I'm not staying in the same place. I'm not really superstitious about it. But with restaurant?wise, I mean, if the food's good and the quality is good, you know, I don't like to change. Last year I was eating at a Thai restaurant for 14 days. By the end of those two weeks, my whole team was like... "I want this, I want 57, I want No. 87." It was the same routine.

The reason I usually go to the same restaurants is because you know the quality of the food is good. You don't want to go to a different restaurant because you might be sick the next day. It's not really because I'm superstitious.

Q. Have there been any times this year in particular where you felt everything that comes with what you've achieved on the court has threatened to get in the way of what you want to do next, felt like things are overwhelming in any way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I've been enjoying everything that I've been doing. I've kept a really good balance between my tennis and other things that I do. Everything that I do off the court, I enjoy it, because if I wouldn't be enjoying it, I wouldn't be doing it.

I've always felt like, you know, whenever I do something else or I rest for, you know, seven days, even if I need to rest, I always miss going back on the court and I always miss, you know, the competitiveness out there.

So while I still feel it and while I still have that feeling inside of me, then I know I'm still on the right track.

Q. When you say "keeping a balance," there's no rules for any of this stuff. How do you decide whether you are keeping the right balance? Who do you discuss that with or is it just an instinctive thing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, you must have that feeling inside. You must realize, you know, what your priority is, you know, how much time you can spend on one certain thing.

Obviously, I have an amazing team around me like, you know, that can help me with those things. I have my parents, I have my managers and everyone else. You know, I just do what I have to do. And if I enjoy, you know, that's why I do it. And if I don't, I say, "I don't want to do it."

Q. Could you talk about the role Robert Lansdorp has played in your development as a player and the role he plays now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, Robert has never really traveled with me. But I've always considered him as one of my coaches just because, you know, when I was young we came to him and, you know, we always come back. He's a character, but he's taught me a lot about the game. He's had so much experience with past players. When I came to him, I was about 11. You know, I would get bored after hitting four balls in a row in one corner, and he made me hit 100. So he taught me that patience and the consistency and the drive, and I guess that determination in your mind that you have to be able to hit 100 balls in order to win one point.

Q. He says you're one of the first people that ever gave him credit. Can you talk about that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, if I feel like someone has played a part in my career, then why not give them credit? I mean, you know, there's obviously ?? if I don't feel like someone wants to get credit for doing nothing then, you know, there's no point talking about the person. But Robert's played a big part in my career and I don't see why I shouldn't give him credit for that.

Q. How do you feel about seeing that huge thing at the end of Wimbledon High Street?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's funny (laughter).

Q. What is your reaction? Do you feel kind of strange seeing it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I didn't even know until I walked down to the village. I got halfway down the street and I was like, "Whoa." It hit me. I was like telling my dad, "Do you see that?"

He's like, "What, what, I don't see anything."

I'm like, "Hello, how can you not see anything?"

But I didn't know anything about it till I saw it. It was surprising.

Q. Going back to the stalker issue, the fact that there is this threat since you won Wimbledon last year, does that kind of bother you as you're walking around? You seem to walk around quite freely.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I do. Like I said, I'm always around someone. I'm always with somebody. I always feel safe. If I was worried every step I was taking, I don't think I would be walking around. I always have bodyguards around me wherever I feel I need them.

But I'm never walking around alone. I always have a group of people walking around with me.

Q. Are you still studying?

Q. What are you doing this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: This year I'm doing Algebra II. Definitely not very fun.

Q. Are you doing exams?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: This year I'm doing exams, too. I'm finishing my last exam of the course. Before I finish this tournament, once I get home, my mom has to see the exam finished. If she doesn't, I'm in trouble (smiling).

Q. Can you talk about the dress you will be wearing during this fortnight.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's ?? how do I explain the dress? I would say it's a summer dress. It has orange details on it. It has a pleated skirt on the bottom. It's pretty covered on top. But the pleated skirt gives it a lot of wave. It's perfect for the weather ? if we keep this weather.

My shoes have 18 carat gold specs on the side of the shoes. That's something totally different. But it shines unbelievably. Hopefully can distract my opponents a little bit (smiling).

And my cover?up, it's sort of a cloak, has gold details and a gold zipper.

Q. Do you have input into that kind of thing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely not the gold shoes. I can't go to the designer and say, "I want 18?carat gold on my shoes." But I work with the designers all the time. The process is, you know, we're already working on next year's Wimbledon. So, you know, we already know a lot of things I'm going to wear for the rest of the year.

But, you know, I work with a designer. Obviously I don't design anything for her. I tell her, "I want to wear this." I incorporate my ideas and the colors and what I feel like I want to be wearing at a certain Grand Slam and the colors. Those inspirations go to her and she comes back with a design and we work with it and I see what I like about it. If I want it to be more feminine or I want some more details, we go back and forth like that.

Q. How much would a pair of 18?carat gold shoes cost if I wanted to get a pair?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I really don't think they're for sale (laughter). I think they're about $600 or $900, something like that.

Q. How many pair of shoes do you go through in a tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: On grass, probably one for every week.

Q. So how many pairs of gold shoes have you got?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have 10. Not that I'll be using all of them. But I think some of them will go through (indiscernible).

Q. How important is it for you to look really good on the courts?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it's not as important to look good; it's important to feel good. I've always loved fashion, I've always wanted to be different. You know, obviously before I was wearing a lot of things that other people were wearing. But, you know, now I'm working with Nike to have exclusive items that you'll just see on myself.

You know, I've always loved to be different. I've always loved to be creative with the things that I wear and have always loved, you know, to feel good in what I'm wearing. And it's very important, especially when you're on the court. If you don't feel like something is wrong, or, you know, too short or too long, something is big, you know, you just don't feel right, then obviously that can affect you.

Q. Back to the tournament. What is going to be the key?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was liking the dress (laughter).

Q. What is going to be the key for you to repeat here, do you think?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just go out there and fight and do the best I can. There is nothing in particular. I mean, I'm just going to go out there and enjoy it and do the best I can to win and just play my game. That's exactly the same thing I did last year.

Q. A lot has happened to you in the last year. How do you keep from growing up too quickly?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Unfortunately, I've had to grow up since I was about 15 or 16. You know, that's not a decision that you just say, "I have to grow up." It's something that comes naturally with your profession and your life and your career. It's something you naturally have to get used to. I mean, traveling around the world every single week, studying on your own, playing tennis, being away from your home, you know, you either adapt to it or you don't.

You know, if you do, you have to be considered an adult because I don't see too many, you know, a lot of teenagers traveling around the world, you know, competing, having to do schoolwork on their own. It's obviously tough, but you have to have that motivation. You have to be mature for your age.

But it's normal for a career like that.

Q. You say you're not too consistent. Do you have the same locker as last year? Will you do the same things at Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. The member's locker room doesn't really have specific lockers. I don't really ?? I don't really put my stuff in a locker. I mean, if people want to steal my stuff, you know, then that's just their problem. I mean, there's nothing too valuable that I'm going to leave out there. I don't really use a locker anyway.

Except my shoes, that I'll probably have to. I'm going to ask the locker room attendant to get me a safe for those (smiling).

Q. Justine always said it was the French Open that she wanted to win. There was a nice story about her going to the French Open when she was 12 with her mom. Would it be fair to say that Wimbledon was the tournament you talked most about in your family when you were growing up? What was the vision of Wimbledon when you were little?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, when I was younger, I didn't really have a vision until I came here as a junior about three years ago. So once I came here and once I experienced the whole atmosphere, then from then on I just said, you know, that's my favorite tournament. You know, I never ?? I mean, I saw the tournament on TV, but I never played on grass, I didn't know what it was like. So it was hard for me, you know, to say that it was my favorite until I actually got here and experienced the whole vibe of the tournament.

Q. Was it slippery the first time you stepped on grass?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I tell you, I was sore the next day. I was a junior and I remember practicing at just like an off?court tournament. I think it was before, Roehampton, I would say. I was playing a junior tournament in Roehampton, and that was the first time.

Q. You talked about how tough it is traveling as a teenager. Is your social life totally sacrificed or do you ever get to have friends to do things?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I have a lot of friends. I mean, I don't have a lot. I have about three good friends, and that's more than enough. You know, they live in different parts of the world. I try to visit them as much as possible.

Obviously, it's not very easy. But, of course, it's very important that when I'm back home, I still keep a close relationship with them because I've known them for so long.

Q. How have your friends reacted to what's happened over the last year? Have they stayed the same?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I would imagine good friends would stay the same, and so far they have. Obviously, they're overwhelmed. You know, everything happened so unexpectedly, that with them we kind of laugh. You know, when we go shopping or something, before it was like, "Well, for Christmas I want that pair of shoes." Now I go shopping, "I'm going to get that pair of shoes now."

Just, you know, we always joke about it and we always laugh about it. We take it with good humor, with everything that's happened. But I still have, you know, friends that ?? I believe it's good to have friends and keep the same friends that were friends with you, you know, before you became successful.

Q. How much does that help you keep your feet on the ground with everything you've achieved so far?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's very important to have a good team around you. I think, you know, having both of my parents very close to me and friends, as well, but I think your parents ?? you know, my mom's my best friend. It's good to have that kind of team around you that you can look to when you're not having a good day that day.

Q. What about boyfriends? Do you have time for them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I have time, but I don't talk about them (smiling).

Q. Are both of your parents here with you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, just my dad.

Q. Is your mom relaxed about watching you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, she doesn't watch. She just says "Congratulations" if I win and "Just another match, who cares," if I lose.

Q. Will you be trying to ring her at the end of the matches again?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm going to take it one match at a time.

Q. How does it work for you? Do you like a group with you from tournament to tournament or do you need your own space to prepare best?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I'm a pretty independent person. So I usually like to ?? I enjoy having time by myself. I don't like when I have sisters or cousins or grandfathers traveling with me. I mean, I always stick to the, you know, same amount of people. I have my dad traveling with me. I have my trainer, you know, my team, my sparring partner. You know, my agent goes to the big tournaments. That's all I need.

Just, you know, when I'm on the road, I make sure I'm concentrating on my tennis. When I'm home, I can have a team of 100 around me.

Q. There are many players who are buying dogs like Arantxa. Steffi Graf was traveling with a dog. Do you think it might be a good companion?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've been thinking about that, and I don't know, maybe when I lose my independence here or something, I'll want a dog. But right now I can't imagine traveling with a dog. That's a no-no right now.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Maria wins DFS Classic again

Maria topped the third-seeded Serbian Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, to record her 17th straight grasscourt victory.

Maria Sharapova

It was Maria Sharapova's third singles title this year and the 10th of her career. She won $31,000. As a 17-year-old last year, Maria won this $200,000 event, then went on to claim her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.

Maria Sharapova Advances to Birmingham Final

Defending champion Maria Sharapova of Russia has advanced to the final of the DFS Classic in Birmingham, beating Tatiana Golovin of France 7-5 6-1.

Maria Sharapova

The Russian top seed, who beat Golovin in last year’s final, squandered a 5-2 lead in the opening set before edging it on her fifth set point. Maria Sharapova won the second set easily after Golovin injured an ankle.


Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova overcame an illness and injury scare to secure her place in tomorrow's semi-finals of the DFS Classic in Birmingham. The 18-year-old Russian battled a cold as well as a defiant opponent to reach her seventh semi-final of the year and gain more valuable grass-court practice ahead of Wimbledon.

Maria Sharapova

Maria gained a 7-5 2-6 6-1 victory over the unseeded Eleni Daniilidou in a two-hour quarter-final and will play 17-year-old Tatiana Golovin - last year's beaten finalist - for a place in Sunday's final. But today's match was one she will quickly want to forget. She woke up this morning feeling unwell with a sore throat and called for a medical time-out early in the second set after complaining of muscle soreness. "I had a cold this morning and on top of that the grass court pushes your body," she explained. "My body got a little bit sore as the match went on. It was good to get some hot cream on it. "But it's just part of tennis. Every day you have things wrong with you. You are not going to be pefect all the time. "I'm going to have a whole week off before Wimbledon so there will be plenty of time to recover."
Athough she appeared to make a full recovery from her injury, Maria lost four of the next five games on the resumption to drop a set for the second successive match. The match was then held up a second time as the world number two took a bathroom break and she re-discovered her best form on her return to rip through the deciding set in just 26 minutes.
"I guess, I just figured I had been playing bad in the first two sets and I couldn't get any worse," she said. "I might as well just pick it up somewhere and try to do the best I can. "I just fought really hard in the end and wanted to return every single ball."

Friday, June 10, 2005

Maria reaches DFS quarter-finals

The leggy Russian Star moved into the quarter-finals of the DFS Classic with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win over the 16th seeded Australia's Samantha Stosur .

Maria Sharapova

"I knew it would be difficult because I've played her before," said Maria, who has now won all four meetings with the 21-year-old Queenslander, two of them on grass in the third round at Edgbaston. "She put me under pressure and made me have to make the return all the time," Maria said. "I enjoy these challenges. That's what it's all about." Stosur said she was pleased with her tactics against Maria Sharapova. "Everyone knows what a great hitter of the ball Maria is from the baseline," Stosur said. "But on these courts you have to rush her and not let her get set for a shot, and I did that. But you have to do it for three sets and keep everything going 100 percent."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Maria Beats Kremer at DFS Classic

Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova defeated Anne Kremer 6-3, 6-0 Tuesday in her first singles match on grass in 11 months, and reached the third round of the DFS Classic.

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Maria, who won this tournament last year en route to her Wimbledon title, said she enjoyed being back on grass. "I tried to hit as freely as possible, even if it meant a few mistakes," Maria said. "That's just the way I am going to play. I am not going just to put the ball back to her, I am going to hit the ball hard and be in control. "I like the pace of the ball," she added. "I get a good advantage, especially with my height and serve. It's a very different game from last week (French Open) and I like it."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Maria Sharapova returns to Wimbledon in search of boost

Maria Sharapova returns to the tournament that set her on the path to Wimbledon glory last year when she starts the defense of her Edgbaston title this week. After some retail therapy in Paris following her quarter-final defeat by eventual champion Justine Henin-Hardenne at the French Open, the 18-year-old Russian is eager to start her grasscourt campaign.

Maria Sharapova

"What happened to me last year was amazing. I was playing really great tennis here and then went off to win Wimbledon. It brings back good memories. I can't believe it's been a whole year already," Maria told a news conference. "It (Edgbaston) is a really good warm up for Wimbledon just because it's a low key tournament. I've always enjoyed playing here."

Maria Sharapova was an outside bet when she won the singles and doubles titles in Birmingham last year and went on to dazzle the All England Club by beating Serena Williams in a thrilling Wimbledon final. In stark contrast Maria Sharapova is top seed at Edgbaston this week and knows the pressure will only increase as Wimbledon, which starts on June 20, draws nearer. "I've never really taken pressure seriously because it's part of the sport," she said. "As I am the defending champion here and at Wimbledon I will have that extra pressure but pressure is what drives me."

Despite the sometimes damp English weather, Maria was delighted to be returning to grass after the clay of Roland Garros. "I really enjoy it. It's an amazing feeling...It puts a smile on my face," she said. "The ball jumps weird and I am laughing. It makes me want to work harder and give that extra effort. It is really special to me. "I think I have a better chance with anybody on grass. It is my favorite surface and it suits my game really well. "Every Wimbledon title will mean everything to me. It's the best tournament in the world. "I appreciate every grand slam but at Wimbledon you have that extra feeling in you that you really want to win."

Maria Sharapova to play for Russia in 2006

At a Moscow press-conference on Monday, Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev expressed hopes that Maria Sharapova, one of the world's leading tennis-players and the Winbledon-2004 winner, will perform next year with a Russian national team at the Federation Cup competitions.

Maria Sharapova

"The mass media are busy speculating about when Maria will apply for American citizenship. I think that if she had wanted this she would have already taken relevant steps - it is too late now," said Tarpishchev. In his opinion, Sharapova's constant pronouncements about her Russian roots speak of her intention to continue playing under the Russian colors. Asked by newsmen about the feasibility of Sharapova's emerging Wimbledon winner for the second time after last year's success, Tarpischev said that Maria Sharapova had all chances to capture the title in case of a favorable seeding - one could even give a percentage-precise forecast then. He mentioned her other problem connected with her swift rise. "She is not quite fit for ground courts and is likely to show a better performance in Wimbledon," concluded Tarpishchev.


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