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August 27, 2005

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Hi, everyone. If we can please start with questions for Maria.

Q. No. 1, do you remember what Richard III said about wearing the crown?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not quite (laughing).

Q. I'll let you research that one. Now you're wearing a big No. 1 (inaudible).

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't really think aiming-wise, there's a big difference between No. 1 and 2. I think No. 1 is just an amazing achievement for myself. You know, it's something that I've worked my butt off over the last years and something that I've wanted to achieve ever since I started playing tennis. So, you know, not many people can say that they're No. 1 in the world, so obviously it is an amazing feeling.

Q. Does it feel strange to be No. 1 this past week and now Lindsay is going back to No. 1 on Monday?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. You know, if I can have it for an hour, for a week, you know, just the fact that you're No. 1 is an amazing feeling.

Q. So give an update on the pectoral injury, how you're playing right now. You've had so few matches.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's doing better. I feel a lot better. I've been strengthening for the last two weeks, seeing the physio twice a day. I was in LA for the whole week the Toronto tournament was on. I started playing mid-week of that week and I've been playing well. I've been practicing quite well. But, you know, I don't expect myself to go out there and play my best tennis from the first round because obviously I haven't had that much match play. But, you know, physically I feel stronger. So, you know, we'll see.

Q. Are you hitting your serves and forehands the way you want to or are they less than what you want them to be?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: They've been getting bigger and bigger, yeah.

Q. A lot of people are interested in the women's field this year in particular; they think it's more open. Do you feel that way? Is it good for women's tennis?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is it more open?

Q. Yes. That seems to be the prevailing opinion. Do you feel that way yourself? Do you think it helps women's tennis?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think most of the top players are playing, aren't they? So that makes it even tougher but that's what it's all about, that's why we're here, you know, for the competition. That's why I'm here. I love it when it gets tough. Fourth round, quarterfinal, you're playing against a tough opponent. You know, the winner of the whole thing has to beat a lot of top players and if you're not willing to do that, then there's no reason to be here.

Q. What is it about this Grand Slam that kind of separates it from the other three for you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think everyone is just hyper and everyone is excited about the tennis. We're in a really crazy atmosphere here. The fans are so different compared to anywhere else in the world. But, you know, that's the cool thing about tennis, is we travel around the world and we get to play in different atmospheres and feel the different vibe.

Q. Do you come into this year's tournament here with a different attitude than last year? Last year you were coming off the high of Wimbledon. Maybe you changed things, improved things over the past year. Do you have a different attitude as opposed to a year ago?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think last year I won the last Grand Slam, I don't think I expected too much of myself from then. And, I don't know, a whole year of experience. It took me a few months to settle down after Wimbledon, so, you know, I haven't really shown New York how I can play, you know. I'm extra excited.

Q. Have you ever sat back and realized how quickly you've achieved this incredible goal you set for yourself?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, way sooner than I thought it would be, definitely. Yeah, you look back few years, two, three years, you know where I was, and just this is amazing, yeah. It's unbelievable.

Q. Is it true you're 6'2'' now, or are you still growing?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I try to say I'm 6'1" and a half (laughing).

Q. You've had such an incredible run with Wimbledon, the championships, now becoming No. 1. As you've got more and more successful, were there ever any times in your career when you've had doubts, and, if so, how did you deal with that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: There are always times when things are not, you know, either working well, either on the court or off the court. Yeah, there are many days. It's not even about being a tennis player, it's day-to-day things, you know. You might feel like nothing's going your way, but, you know, somehow you just -- you have to get through them and just stay positive. And, you know, now, whenever something's not working, I just think back about what I've achieved and, I don't know, there are a lot of those days.

Q. Is part of it the willingness to go back to the practice court?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, just looking, looking towards the positive, always thinking of ways to make it better if it's not right, always try to find a way to make it better.

Q. It took you a couple months to come down from Wimbledon. Do you have any fears there's going to be that same feeling coming down from No. 1? What did you learn from last year that can help you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think it's a little bit different situation. I think I won Wimbledon kind of, you know, I wouldn't say out of nowhere, but it kind of felt like that at that time, you know. I was the 13th seed. You know, it was very surprising. I, you know, didn't even know if I would make it to the semis. But I think with No. 1 and 2, I mean, No. 2 is already an amazing achievement, but I think just to be No. 1 in the world, it's more for myself and just to know you've achieved it, you know. I think it was a little bit different last time.

Q. You've had a big week in New York with the perfume and tennis dress and watch. How do you keep all that stuff in perspective and keep tennis the top priority? How do you balance all that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I came here a week early to get used to the conditions and set time aside for my corporate appearances. That's, you know, I love doing that once in a while, very fun. I got to launch my perfume the other day and my new watch that I designed. So, you know, it's fun. It's like the finished product. That's the day when you're like, "Okay, everything's put together now." But it's very important to have a balance. I mean, I was on the "Today Show" at 9 a.m., then at 3 o'clock in the afternoon I was back on the practice court working for three hours and, you know, running on the treadmill and sweating my -- sweating like crazy. I'm thinking, "Jesus, three hours ago I was on the 'Today Show' with make-up and I looked amazing and now I look like crap."

Q. How do you feel about being in the gossip columns, specifically regarding speculation that you're dating certain rock stars and certain tennis stars?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: How do I feel? Yeah, it's flattering, I guess, but, you know, I don't -- I'm not the kind of person that says, "Okay, I want to be on this page." You know, my intentions are to come to New York and be in that newspaper, this newspaper. I go and do my thing, do my appearances, not to be in a paper but if I am and if I end up at that place, then I'm very flattered.

Q. This perfume that you are endorsing, were you offered like alternative scents to approve or did they come up with one scent and say, "That's what it's going to be"?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I had to -- no, I mean, it starts from basically -- it's, like, my whole creation. I come up with the ingredients and the smell and everything. So it's not like they just gave me one and told me that I'm going to endorse it, no way. Yeah, it was a very long process. It took nine months to actually put everything together.

Q. Nine months?


Q. Speaking of putting things together, your hard court game, what has to go right for you, what do you have to do specifically on this surface to be able to achieve what you want to?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I don't know, just play my game. You know, it's hard, it's really hard to say. Just things that I'm going to change, it's not like I'm going to change my game dramatically going from one surface to another. I think the courts are playing a little quicker this year than they were last year, and also compared to Home Depot they're a lot faster. So that goes to my advantage as well. But it's always important to be on your serve and for it all to go well. You know, that's important if you can get a few free points.

Q. Does it make a difference to your players, yourself, to see the ball when it's day or night because of the color of the court?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: The blue, the color?

Q. Does it help you see it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I think I could play if it's black or red (laughing).

Q. The fact that you are No. 1 now, does it put any additional weight on your shoulders? Do you feel like now you have to win, especially with the other Russians.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Like I said, I don't think it really puts extra pressure on myself because, I mean, just going from No. 2 to 1. But just the amazing achievement of being No. 1, I don't think it adds any extra pressure, it has nothing to do with that. It's just the fact that you're No. 1.

Q. Do you think the atmosphere of New York is something you have to put aside in order to do well here, or is it something that can kind of propel you to succeed?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it depends who they're rooting for, you know (laughing). Um, I've always been pretty good with putting things aside when I'm out on the court. You know, I have my days, yes, but I'm usually pretty good with that. I don't really need to tell myself. But they are more enthusiastic than other crowds that I've seen around the world.

Q. Do you like the atmosphere here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I love it. You know, sometimes I feel like I need to hit the lines more often for them to get excited but, you know, what can I do? I'll work on that.

Q. Is the injury causing you any anxiety, or are you dealing with the fact now that it's going to be better, it's not going to come back and you're going to be able to play a couple weeks?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I was pretty upset the first few days of when it happened, but things always happen for a reason, that's the way I put it. I've been pretty optimistic ever since. Injuries are just part of the game, it's something you've got to deal with, something you've got to get through. But, you know, I was playing with a terrible back in Australia and I got to the semifinals thinking that I couldn't even walk so, you know... Thinking about that, this is a piece of cake.

End of FastScripts….

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