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July 3, 2004

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Wimbledon Ladies Singles Champion, Maria Sharapova. First question, please.

Q. When did you get the Nokia contract?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, actually I have a Nokia. That was my dad's phone that he gave me. I kept turning it on. It kept going off. I kept turning it on. It kept going off. It's actually a Chinese phone, so I told myself not to bother any more.

Q. You're going to be asked this quite a bit, but how does it feel to hear this, "Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon Champion"?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's amazing, really. I'm absolutely speechless. I never, never in my life expected this to happen so fast. And it's always been my dream to come here and to win. But it was never in my mind that I would do it this year. When I came off the court and I saw my name on that board already with all the champions, that was when I realized that I had just won. And I was trying to look at the trophy and I was trying to see, I mean, it's in my hands, I don't understand, but it's actually in my hands. When I came after on the court and saw the board with my name on it, 2004 Wimbledon Champion, that was just it for me.

Q. It seemed like you were expecting to win. You were so calm during the trophy presentation, going to get the cell phone. It almost seemed like you had your list of people to thank. Did you expect to win today?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't think about it, but I kept believing in myself. Last night I got a terrible sore throat, and I thought that I was going to get sick. I mean, a Wimbledon final, I was absolutely in tears because I did not think anything like this could happen. I did not think I would be ready to play a Wimbledon final and win. I don't know. I just -- it's amazing.

Q. Can you describe the root of your confidence to take the game to Serena, which so many other players don't even attempt to do?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: To tell you the truth, I don't know what happened in the match. I don't know how I won. I don't know what the tactics were (laughter). I was just out there. I was just playing. I could really care less what was going on outside me. I was in my own little world - I don't know what world that was really.

Q. In many ways, you rolled her. You ran right over her. Nobody does that and no one has done that to Serena before. Were you surprised by that? Are you surprised by that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes, I am. I'm very surprised because, first of all, the first set, I mean, it was very tough, but I felt throughout the whole set like I was in control. I don't know how I got to that point in the first place. And in the second set, when I lost my serve and I was down 2-4, I was, like, "Okay, Maria, get yourself together." But I pulled it out.

Q. Can you imagine how this is going to change your life from this point?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I don't know. I hope it doesn't change the person who I am right now because I really don't want that to happen. I think I already told a few people, "If I change, then hit me in the head, please."

Q. Did you actually have a chance to enjoy it out there?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, yeah, holding that trophy is one enjoyable time in your life, definitely.

Q. During the match, though?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Well, yeah, after I won, match point. I mean, that's an enjoyable moment, for sure.

Q. You said you were in your own little world. Can you possibly describe what it was like inside your head, knowing you were playing for Wimbledon?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, I did not think -- I did not think that this was a final. I did not think who was playing. I was just concentrating on what I was going to do, just on myself. I knew that the power was within me and that I could -- if I put my mind to something, I would do it. That's what I thought about the whole match.

Q. Did you think the match was mostly a mental victory for you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely.

Q. Where did you try to attack her the most? Going in, where did you think she would be most vulnerable?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't really know because I didn't see her play throughout these two weeks. To tell you the truth, I did not have a big tactic going into this match. I was just there to go out and play my game and figure out a way to win and figure out what I needed to do just to get used to her game a little bit. Did that pretty fast.

Q. The reason for you leaving the court towards the end of the knock-up?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: When? Right before the match? I had to go to the bathroom, what else (laughter)?

Q. Was that nerves?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. They were kind of rushing me to go on court. I was like, "Okay, I need to go to the bathroom." But then they already put the flowers in my hands. I was like (laughter). They put the flowers in my hand expecting me to go on court. I was like, "Listen, guys, I have to go to the bathroom." I didn't really pay attention until I got on the court. It was like, "I really got to go."

Q. You stood there a long time waiting to go on court with Serena. It took a long time.


Q. That could be nerve-wracking for a lot of people. Was it nerve-wracking for you? Were you zoned in?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I was zoned in, but we had a little kid that was going to do the coin toss, and she was there. She was waiting to go on court before us. So we were just, you know, looking at her, having a little chat. You know, I didn't know that she was doing it. The referee was there. But we were just waiting for everybody to go on court before the players did.

Q. Just between me and you, who is the special someone you wanted to thank afterwards?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's not going in the public eye (smiling).

Q. For the benefit of some of us who are new, can you recap your route to this trophy, how it all started, what sacrifices you've made?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Again? Oh, a lot of sacrifices, just going to the United States when I was seven, not being able to see my mom for two years, being away from my dad for one year because he had to find work. And then developing my career and working hard, trying to achieve this.

Q. Has it been worth it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Has it been worth it? Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Q. Winning Wimbledon is pretty big. If you could calculate at this moment, what is the aspect of your game you would now most like to improve?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think my opponents have always considered my forehand to be my weakness, because that's what I found out during the matches that I played, you know, through my whole career. But thanks to those opponents, my forehand's getting a lot better. So I don't think there's really -- I mean, I still have to get stronger. I still have to develop a lot physically. I have to -- I mean, these two weeks, obviously I've made it and I won, but I still got to, you know, have my body prepared and prepare for being for two weeks.

Q. Now you have won your favorite tournament, which one is the next on your list?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'd like to win all of them. I'd like to win all the Grand Slams. I mean, Wimbledon, it's my favorite really, and I'd love to win it many more times, of course. But I'd also like to win all the other Grand Slams.

Q. You must be really psyched up for the US Open now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes, but I'm not really thinking about that right now. I know that after this and after I'm all settled, I get my emotions down, after I've had a little break, I'm going to start working again and developing the things I think I still need to develop in my game.

Q. What television programs have called? Will you be going to the United States? Have any television programs, like David Letterman, Jay Leno?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I don't take care of that right now. My agent does.

Q. Is there someone special in your life you're going to share this victory with? Do you have a boyfriend all?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't talk about my personal life. I'm not going to say if I have a boyfriend or if I don't have a boyfriend.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about modeling contracts and endorsements. Does that side of the game interest you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of the game? Well, it's not really a side of the game. It's a totally different side. But it's something -- I just enjoy fashion, and I think that getting involved with me signing the contract with IMG models can bring me a little bit closer to the fashion business. Because when I finish my career, I don't want to just stand there and be empty handed and not have many opportunities behind my back.

Q. It seems your forehand and your consistency in serve have all improved of late. Can you talk about the recent growth or evolution of your game, how it's helped you win the title?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, you always work on things that you need to work on. You always figure out a way to make them better. And I think I've had a great team around me that helped me, you know, understand what I needed to work on more than other things. I've just always been trying to work hard.

Q. How are you going to celebrate your victory?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. First I just want to get better. I want to get this sickness out of my system. I can't wait to see my mom, first of all. I'll be flying to New York after the ball tomorrow. I can't imagine I'm saying this, I'm going to the ball (laughter).

Q. Can you just describe, if you can, that moment that you had with your dad after that hug? What were you feeling? What were you thinking at that very moment?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just all that has happened in my life, all the tough moments we've been through, all the good moments. This is what I wanted to achieve all my life, and it happened. That's the person, you know, that I wanted to share it with.

Q. A lot of players have come through the Nick Bollettieri Academy, starting very young, going through the regime there. How much of a help has that been to you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, definitely, because the Bollettieri Academy was the first place we wanted to go to from Russia. It was kind of our destination in our minds. So that is where we went. And definitely Nick and the academy helped me a lot because that's where I got the scholarship, and that's where I was able to start training.

Q. How much of an influence was Robert Lansdorp, and what did he bring to your game that you needed to see him about?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Robert has been -- has made a big impact on my game definitely, because when I was 11 years old, you know, I wasn't the kind of person that wanted to practice and hit ball after ball after ball. I wasn't consistent enough. When I came to Robert, he was like, "Okay, this girl has to hit ball after ball after ball until this basket it finished." When I looked in the basket, there were about 1,000 balls in there. My eyes were pretty big when I saw that basket.

Q. If someone in your early years said at Bollettieri, "Not to worry, you're going to win Wimbledon at a teenager," what would you have said to them?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, first of all, I'd tell them I'd try, and that it's also my dream so I'll work very hard in order to do so. But, you know, I don't want to predict things when things aren't predictable.

Q. I read somewhere that when you first went to Bollettieri, it was difficult because there were some girls that made fun of you and you didn't really fit in in your dorm and all that. Do you remember those days, just how far removed you are from that that you're the most popular girl in tennis?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the reason for that was because I was young and I was staying with girls that were much older than my age. It was difficult because the academy didn't have that many girls that age so young staying in a dormitory. If there were any, they would be staying with their parents, of course. But I didn't have a choice, so I had to stay in a dormitory. I was just put in with girls that were a lot older, more mature, of course, had many more interests. I mean, I'm 10 years old, and these girls are 16, 17, so that's a big difference. It's like me staying in a dormitory with a 10-year-old. But, of course, I wouldn't be mean to them like they were to me (laughter).

Q. What did they do to you? Did they make fun of you, pick on you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it wasn't really about that. It was just that I was just seven years younger than them. That's basically it. I mean, they have totally different interests. They do totally different things. I mean, my bedtime was four hours earlier than theirs was, that's one thing. That's already a big difference.

Q. Have you spoken with your mother yet?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. She's still flying, yes, on Jet Blue, the TV. I hope she knows that I won.

Q. How important is No. 1 to you, becoming No. 1 in the world?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's very important. I mean, I thought Wimbledon was just my dream to win, and now, of course, my goal is to be No. 1 in the world.

Q. You talked about how you don't want to change. Obviously, the demands on you, both tournaments and everything, will increase. How will you handle those demands, the increasing demands you're going to face? In terms of your schedule, is there any chance you'll be looking at coming to Canada after all and playing in Montreal?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: To tell you the truth, I know that things will start coming up, many more people will want to start getting involved. But I just want to keep my head cool and I want to leave the people that take care of this to them because I'm not into it really, that business. I just go out and I just play tennis. But I'd love going to Montreal, but right now I don't think that's on my schedule from now on because I thought I'm going to play LA, then San Diego, then I was going to take a few weeks off just to work hard before the US Open. But we'll see. I mean, you never know what could happen.

Q. It could change?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It could. You never know.

Q. Have you ever had to work on the mental side of your game or has that competitive spirit that we've seen this week always been there?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's always been there. I've just always been a competitor. I've always wanted to compete and I've always wanted to win. No, I never really practiced that.

Q. No coach has ever said to you that you have to work on that side of your game, mental side?


Q. You said that you were only borrowing it for a year, the title from Serena. Do you not feel that you can dominate, for five, six, seven years like Navratilova.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I sure hope so, but I'm not going to think what's going to happen a year from now. I just won this title. I'm very happy. I don't want to think what's going to happen a year from now.

Q. This was a tournament of many comebacks: Sugiyama, Davenport, today 4-2 in the second set. Which one has been the most difficult for you psychologically, mentally, and which one will you remember more?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think every one has been very hard. I don't think there's a pick between those matches. I was down. I lost the first set with both Sugiyama and then Lindsay. That was, of course, difficult. But against Lindsay, I think that being down a set, this is the semifinals, winning it, being in the Wimbledon final, this was pretty amazing. But I don't think there's one to pick.

Q. Should the rest of the tour be afraid of you with the confidence you're going to gain from this?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't want to think about what the tour will think really. I just go out. Doesn't really matter who it is. Somebody from the tour, somebody not, I just want to go out and I just want to win.

Q. You said you were in tears last night. How bad did you feel? Did you think you ever might not be able to play today because you felt so sick?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, usually I get sick starting with a sore throat. So when I got a bad sore throat, I was like, you know... I never thought about me not playing, but I knew that it's not a good sign when you have a sore throat and you think you're going to get sick.

Q. Andy or Roger, who do you think would make the perfect date for tomorrow's ball?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think both of them have a girlfriend, no?

Q. Briefly going back to when you first came to America, I want to tell the story right and I'm a bit confused. When you were seven, did you have a place secured in the Bollettieri Academy?


Q. Was that when you were nine that you got in there? How did those first two years in America go?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, we arrived there, but nobody knew that we were going there, so we just arrived. Of course, we asked if I could play there. The coaches saw me, then Nick saw me, then IMG got involved.

Q. So you basically had to prove yourself from the time you were seven that you deserved a place in the academy?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, yeah, if that's what you want to call it, sure.

Q. Between your talents and other things, what do you consider your most significant attributes? What is your greatest thing? Is it mental, physical, dedication?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Mental. I'm just a very tough person when I go on the court, and I really don't want to lose. I mean, of course, there's not every day where you're going to win. But I'm that kind of person that I just love to win and I want to fight. You know, if you lose, I love to learn from my mistakes and I'll learn next time.

End of FastScripts….

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