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June 28, 2005

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. Maria Sharapova. Questions in English first of all, please.

Q. The museum here are keen to get one of your outfits, including your trainers from this year. Would you be prepared to donate them? If so, why is it important for you to do things like that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think I will. I have a lot of those dresses, so I don't think it will be a problem.

Q. And the trainers as well.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. The little shorts?

Q. The shoes.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: The shoes. The shoes, I might have to take the gold away (laughter). No, yeah, sure, I'd give the shoes. No problem.

Q. You like going down in Wimbledon history?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, for sure. To be in that museum, obviously it's a big achievement.

Q. How different has the road been back to the semifinals for you this year versus last year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, it's been different, but it's also been different because experience-wise I feel like I'm a much more experienced player this year. In certain situations, you know, last year I would have gone for my shots; this year I feel like I've been in this situation before and I feel like I know what to do. It's different, but I'm also expecting myself to know what to do in these certain situations.

Q. How would you compare the confidence level you have right now versus exactly a year ago when you were also in the semifinals?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, like I said, last year I was just thrilled to be in the semifinals. And this year, I mean, you know, I'm sort of expecting myself to be in the second week. I mean, I'm thrilled, of course. When you're in the second week of a Grand Slam, of course you're confident and so are the opponents you're going to play, so it's normal.

Q. If you play Venus Williams, what are the differences and similarities in your games?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, she has a big game, you know, is a great fighter. So every time we play we always have really tough matches. Just have to go out and battle it out and see who can come out and win the fight.

Q. What about styles? What gives you the most trouble and what do you most like in playing against her?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, every opponent is so different. You know, you just go out. It's hard to focus on your opponent. I mean, I only played her a few times. I think the main thing is she's a good athlete, she gets a lot of balls back and she's very tough. So, you know, it's just mentally you've got to be ready for an extra ball.

Q. Were there certain points during the match today that you felt experience you talked about a few moments ago really manifested itself? Where did that come to bear?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, especially when I was down a breakpoint, I told the ball to hit the net and roll over. That's what comes with experience (laughter). I think in the past year it's been really important for me, you know, to learn from different situations, you know, either it's a winning situation or it's a losing situation. I've been able to bounce back from the losing positions and learn from them. So I think, you know, maybe when I'm down or maybe when it's close in the match, I feel like I'm still in it. I don't feel like I'm letting down. Mentally, I'm still really, really tough. A lot of girls, the reason why when it gets to 4-All, we're holding serve, I feel like I'm mentally tougher out there and I mentally can play, you know, two more good games to finish off the set.

Q. If the net cord had gone against you, do you think you'd handle that sort of thing much better now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's hard to say. I mean, obviously it would have been a totally different story. It would have been back on serve. Why talk about it? It went the other way, so...

Q. Andy Murray was saying yesterday as he came off he had a marriage proposal. Have you ever had that experience yourself?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: God, there's so many answers to give you guys. I don't know what to choose from. I mean, yeah, there are a lot of signs. Not too many here, not at Wimbledon. At other tournaments, there are a lot of signs, "Will you marry me, Maria?" It's like, "Will you jump off a bridge?" The same thing.

Q. Are you disappointed with the reserve that the British men are showing?

THE MODERATOR: Do we have a tennis question, please?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Are you from The Sun?

Q. Are you disappointed at the reserve that British men have shown?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think he asked you about the tennis questions. Let's go on with the tennis questions.

Q. How did the experience of playing Serena last year help you for a situation facing Venus this year? Is there any comparable element to it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it's a totally different situation. You know, last year I think what happened me last year is when I played her at the Nasdaq. That was the first time I played her. I was a bit unsure of what to expect. And just physically, she's a lot stronger than me. When I went into the Wimbledon final last year, I felt like a much -- you know, I felt like I was in that situation where I saw Serena across the net. It was a bit of a -- you know, it wasn't like a new situation for me. I've been there, plus I played really well. So if you add those things together and you win, then you can't beat that.

Q. Of the matches against Venus, is there anything that stands out, a moment that you will focus on as you approach playing her this time?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the main thing is just to be mentally tough. It's going to be a big battle, and that's all. You've just got to fight. That's the only thing you can do.

Q. If you say you're kind of expecting yourself to be in the semifinal this year, does that mean this year it's not so much of a fairytale for you? Is that tennis enough?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You're trying to get some attention in here, aren't you?

Q. No. Just asking some questions.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: All right. I'll give you some answers. What was the question again?

Q. If you expect yourself to be in the semifinal this year...

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah. It's a different situation because last year, you know, I wasn't expected to be in the second week of a Grand Slam. It was obviously something new to me, something really exciting. You know, when you get to the semifinal of a Grand Slam for the first time, it's overwhelming. At 17 years old, you're really excited about it. In a year, I was in the semifinals of Australia, quarters of Roland Garros. You know, coming here, I feel like I'm, you know, being consistent. And it feels good in a way, but it's also very exciting. You know, I'd rather be in the second week than lose in the first round and be excited about that.

Q. There's an interesting interview with Venus' dad on the TV which said that tennis should never be the No. 1 thing in your life. He said that to the girls in their career. Should be God, family, tennis, then business. Is that a philosophy you agree with, that tennis shouldn't take over your life?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I don't think tennis is my life. It's my career. It's what I've done since I was younger. That's how obviously I made money. But it's not my life, for sure. There are a lot of more important things in my life. Family, health. If you have those two things, then, you know, tennis is just something way on the bottom.

Q. He says his girls have got to enjoy it as well, which is a key thing with you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, if I wouldn't be enjoying it... I'm that kind of person, whatever it is - tennis or writing a paper or something. If I wouldn't be enjoying it, I mean, if it's something necessary I would do it, but if it's not, I say, you know, get it out of here.

Q. The dress you're wearing now is a very classic. You've worn a lot of dresses in your career. Is this the nicest one, even though there's limitations because of the white?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, at Wimbledon, all my dresses last year, my dress was very simple, but it was very classy and elegant. And this year I feel like it's old style, like I feel ladies -- I see pictures on the walls of other players here around the tournament, and I see them wearing, you know, those pleated skirts and some details in the front. It makes me think back of the days. You know, whenever I think of designing a dress or having inspirations for Wimbledon, it's always about, you know, tradition and elegance.

Q. Have you worn this one all the way through or did you change at any point in this tournament? Do you have two variations of this dress?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, the same dress.

Q. The let cord point went in your favor, but it switched, I don't know, six or eight inches and went from an out ball to an in ball. When that occurred, what went through your mind? Did you say, "Thank God, the stars are with me"?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I thanked the fairy for taking the ball and bringing it over the net. You know, this is tennis, and that's what happens. Sometimes it will go over and sometimes not, and you end up losing the match. Today it went into my favor.

Q. Mary Pierce is still in the match against Venus. If it were Mary Pierce that you'd face in the next round, can you describe what sort of match-up that might be?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I've always had really tough matches with Mary. I played her -- last time was in Rome on clay. You know, that's a bit different. You know, she's been playing really well, playing with a lot of confidence. She has a big game, as well, big serve, can definitely attack her movement. But otherwise it's still going to be a very tough match.

End of FastScripts….

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