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March 15, 2005

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria.

Q. Would you say that you're far more aggressive this year than last year, aggressive on the court?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I would say I've always been pretty aggressive.

Q. But the rest of the game, you feel it's about the same as previously?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I think there are a lot of things that I've improved from last year. You know, I've always been aggressive. That's my instinct. But there are a lot of things in my game that I have improved.

Q. Talk about the late stages of the final set.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you know, it was a big battle out there. You know, I basically committed suicide when I had those four match points, especially when I came into the net and stayed in the middle -- like in the no zone. I don't know, I guess you just -- you know, when you're not playing your best tennis, I guess those are the matches where you finish, you win or lose. But it's good to get through them, especially if you win, because I feel whenever I don't play that well, then the next day I come out and I do better and better. But, you know, obviously she played amazing. You know, as the weather got a little cooler, I think she got the advantage because it was a little slower. She started getting everything back and the points became a lot longer. We had really long points and I was just making small errors. You know, they weren't going very long, but I was just making -- especially when I was up 40-Love on her serve, three match points, I went and made three errors in a row out of nowhere. You know, I just have to, I guess, be more consistent when I have to and just tell myself that -- you know, tell my mind that you just have to win this point, it's over. Go 30 more minutes out there for no reason.

Q. Do you think you were too eager to close out the match?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I wasn't eager. I think she -- you know, she didn't give me any rhythm on the match points, and I felt like, you know, I was going for my shots. I was doing the same thing I was doing the previous points, but for some reason, you know, I didn't feel like I hit the ball in the middle of the racquet. I feel like I shanked the ball for no reason at all.

Q. Could you believe the shot she made on your first match point when she made a sprint to her right?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, that's when I was in no man's land and the whole court was open. You know, those are the things I have to learn. I'm not the best player at the net. But those are the things I want to improve in my game, especially when I come into the net. You know, it's about instinct and knowing where your opponent's going to go. That's one of the things I just have to improve in my game. Especially on match point, your opponent has nothing to lose and goes for an unbelievable winner and makes it, you know, and you're standing there open-mouthed, you know, like you just made an error, but you didn't. She just hit a good shot. But I think, you know, if I improve some things in my game, like covering the line or, you know, having better instincts at the net, you know, the match would have been a lot quicker.

Q. Frustrating and disappointing match in Australia against Serena. Does a match like that one prepare you better for winning matches like this?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you know, it's difficult because obviously I'm not going to deny it, but it comes back in your mind. Like you had four match points before and, you know, now you're not being -- you're up, you're up 5-2, and all of a sudden, you know, you were playing so good and all of a sudden either she picked up her game or you just started going downhill. But, you know, it's good to learn, of course. I would have -- you know, if I wasn't in that situation today, I thought maybe I was going to get more frustrated. But, you know, I was frustrated when I got back to 5-All, but then, you know, I just pulled it together.

Q. Are you asking too much of yourself to win the first match point or the second match point in matches like this or is it just tennis and people fight back, you're going to have to scrap out the victories one way or another?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think a lot of people, you know, when they're down, including myself, you know, we just feel that we have nothing to lose. And that's when players play their best, when they have nothing to lose, when they go out there and hit everything as hard as they can. And then once that person starts making great shots, you know, it gets to your mind, like why all of a sudden is someone playing better when they didn't play good all match. Or, you know, it's like mind games all of a sudden when you know that she just hit a good shot. But at that point you don't really realize it. So, I don't know.

Q. It seems like you're getting more relief than joy out of this victory.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, I'm -- it's good to be able to pull through a match like that because that's what, you know, top players are all about, when you're in that situation, and you know that -- I've been in the situation already a month or two ago. So, you know, I'm happy to be able to improve. You know, I didn't lose again after having four match points. Obviously, then I would be pretty ashamed of myself. But it feels good to know that you're in that situation and now you were in that situation again and you improved.

Q. Do you think of yourself and Serena having an emerging rivalry and are you disappointed she is not here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I do think because all the time we have amazing matches and there's a lot of drama going on in our matches. You know, we both fight very hard and we want to win and we're big competitors. You know, it's great because everybody's anticipating. You know, they don't know who's going to win or what's going to happen, you know, if something major is going to happen, is it going to be drama. I think everybody, you know, they're sort of very anxious to see what's going to happen, so...

Q. She said in a conference call today she couldn't remember when you met in Key Biscayne. That was a big tournament for you last year. What do you remember from Key Biscayne last year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, I wasn't -- I wasn't an experienced player. And I think playing Serena, you know, helped me a lot when I played her again at Wimbledon, you know, just to feel it out, see what it's like. I've never played her before. You never know about her game. Watching her on TV is totally different than actually having her across the net. It was just a good experience just to play that match, just to see what it's all about and then having that experience behind my back helped me.

Q. Do you think the emerging generation of Russian-born players that's on the scene now, are you in some way hungrier than some of the established players like the Williams sisters in the sport?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I think everybody's really hungry. I mean, you know, if you're playing the sport, why wouldn't she want to beat your opponents? It's just a matter of going out there and seeing who can win. I mean, there's a big difference between winning and losing. So, you know, it doesn't matter what goes inside of your mind or what other people are thinking. At the end of the day, you either won or you loss (sic). It's big news if you lose; it's not big news if you win. But inside of you, you really want to compete and you really want to fight out there.

Q. In the last issue of Vogue magazine, it's written that you have 15 employees. If it's true, could you tell us who is taking care of that part, Yuri or yourself?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Employees for what?

Q. We're talking about business. 15 employees. That's the quote in the interview with you. Does Yuri take care of that part or you also?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, IMG takes care of that. They have a big team that does all the off-court things.

Q. They're not like people that work directly with you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, my agent is someone that works directly with me, and we're on the phone all the -- you know, all the time about that. He's the one in contact with other people.

Q. You don't worry about that part; you just worry about your game?


Q. Is it true you have 15 employees? That's a lot. Is that accurate?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I think you guys have no idea what's behind. I mean, there are so many little things that go into an endorsement or a contract. I mean, if one little thing is wrong in there, then you're screwed. So just, I mean, I don't care if it's 15 or 30, you know, I want to make sure it's right. And I'm sure they do, too.

Q. So it sounds like you're someone involved in making sure that your business things are going correctly; you're not just leaving it to everyone else to make those decisions for you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, of course. Not only am I a sportswoman, but I'm a businesswoman, as well. That's part of my life. You know, I'm happy to do it. I know I'm only 17 years old, but, you know, I think I'm pretty mature and I have to make big decisions at my age. And I think so far I've done pretty well.

Q. Of all your contracts that you've had, especially since Wimbledon, which one surprises you the most?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. All of them really. I don't know. It's been amazing really, all the associations I've had in the past year. I mean, you know, Motorola has been amazing because that was my first one, after what happened on Centre Court at Wimbledon. Then Canon, then TAG. But also having my own perfume is really exciting. It's Maria Sharapova, it's not somebody else's. It's all my design, you know, it's my scent, something that is totally me. That's probably been the funnest process of them all.

Q. Are you ready to go up against Sabatini's perfume in Europe?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I am. Let the rivalry begin (laughter).

Q. Are you aware of Prefontaine? Is that what the T-shirt means?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Nike has so many things that I'm learning about her (sic). They have a new collection, called the White Label. A lot of the stuff is more off court, not for tennis. And it's really amazing because each shirt has like a little story behind the shirt. I've been reading. I mean, I have so many shirts, I've been reading all those stories. But, yeah, I mean, I have so many of these shirts, and they all have like different really cool meanings and other stuff. But I'm still learning about this stuff.

Q. Is there a meaning to shirt?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah, there's a meaning to every shirt.

Q. What is the meaning to that shirt?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, they had -- it's really complicated. Maybe I'll rip out the story, I'll give it to you.

Q. What is the name of your perfume?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's called Maria Sharapova. That's a tricky question.

Q. The Russians for many years, they were starting the kids at 11 and 12 playing tennis. Now more and more we hear Russian kids are starting at five and six.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I started at four, so I'm not on the list.

Q. Who started you? Your parents?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, yeah, my dad played just for fun, and I think I just picked up a racquet because I just seen him playing.

End of FastScripts….

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