March 29, 2004
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. Can you talk about the match today. What was the difference?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the experience. I mean, there are many big differences, you know. I mean, even though she's been out for so long, you know, she still has many qualities of a champion out there, you know, no matter how long she's been out. You know, I went out there and I thought I played a pretty decent match. I was pretty much in control in the first set until she broke me, and I felt really good. I felt that I had a few breakpoints, but she just managed just to make a good serve. That was the difference. Just little things here and there that I still need to improve.
Q. Is it the first time you played her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yep.
Q. How does her power stack up against some of the other top players even though she's been out for a while?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, definitely, I mean, she has so much power. She's very strong, as you can see. No matter how long she was gone, she's still back. I think she really played well today considering that she's been gone for so long.
Q. How did you like your chances going into the match? How did you feel?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I felt pretty good. I had nothing to lose in the match; I knew that. She's been out for eight months. I was just going to go out there and play my game and enjoy it and have fun, and I did. I thought, I mean, there were very positive things that I found in my game against a top player like her. So I definitely enjoyed it.
Q. Such as...?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, those things about the game I just like to keep to myself. But, you know, just looking ahead in my career and just thinking of what I need to improve and then what I needed to improve and now that I'm improving it, it makes me feel more confident.
Q. Do you feel that it's a lost opportunity, that this was a good chance to beat Serena?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, it's not a lost opportunity. I'm going to have many more opportunities in my life.
Q. You never really know until you're out there hitting against her, but how impressed were you with the power of her game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, you know, she's a very strong lady. Definitely she has a lot of power. I mean, yes, she looks like she's powerful, you know, but there are many other things in tennis except power. I mean, tennis is not all about power. You can take spectators, they'll have a lot of power, but they don't know how to play the game. You need a lot more to play the game. She definitely has those good qualities.
Q. Did she seem rusty to you at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I thought that yesterday she played -- I mean, today I thought she played a much better match than she did yesterday. But I was on the court, you know; yesterday I was just watching from the stands. But, I mean, I didn't feel -- I mean, yes, she made a few errors on the return and stuff, but, you know, hey, maybe my serve was good, I don't know (laughing).
Q. What did you think of her outfit today, the crop top and short shorts?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think that it's great. I mean, fashion these days in tennis definitely has been something that players can work with. I definitely think that fashion can express the way you feel and the way you look, and I definitely think that it's very good for the sport. We don't have to wear uniforms, we don't have to kind of be in what everybody else is in, and I think this is a very good way just to show your personality when you go on court. I definitely think that, you know, everybody has their own unique opinion about what to wear and I think that's very good for tennis.
Q. Do you think Serena has a particular flair that way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: What do you mean by "flair"?
Q. She has a unique eye for that sort of thing. She's involved in the designs of her outfits.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely. I think every player wants to feel good on the court. Nobody wants to go out and feel, you know, uncomfortable in what we're wearing. I mean, they want to be satisfied. This is a sport where you can go on the court, you can choose what you wear. I mean, you don't design it, you know, sometimes, but definitely if you don't feel comfortable wearing a skirt, you can wear shorts. It's not like you have to wear these big pads, this big uniform, this big jersey, and these big socks, hey, so... You can just express more.
Q. You wore all those pads in a photo shoot, didn't you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I did. It wasn't very comfortable (smiling).
Q. Is there any intimidation factor going out ther against Serena even though she has been out this long?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, like I said, it doesn't matter how long she was out. You just always have to focus on today and the way you're going to play and, I mean, no, you have to expect the best from her.
Q. So there is a little bit of an intimidation factor still?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, she's not No. 1 in the world right now. But, you know, she's still a champion out there. Of course you just got to go out and fight.
Q. What's next for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm pretty sure Berlin.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.