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June 26, 2003

Maria Sharapova


MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Maria Sharapova.

Q. Do you feel as though you're in a dream land with what's happening this week?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't think it's a dream. It's reality. You know, I just played really well. When you play really well, good things can happen. And today certainly it did happen. I won, you know. I mean, this is not dream land. Of course, I can't think it as a dream land. It's reality, and I'm in reality.

Q. The crowd really took to you today. You blew them a kiss at the end. You seem to be enjoying every moment of your week.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Like I said the other day, I love coming here. I mean, last year when I was here, the junior matches, all of the courts were just filled, all the junior matches that everyone played. All the fans just coming and supporting their favorite players. From last year, I mean, I said that this is wonderful. Coming back here is great.

Q. How about your next opponent? Assess her game.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I saw her play a few matches just on TV. I don't really go and watch the match itself. You know, my dad has and my coach has. Just go out and play my game. You know, that's what I do best. Hopefully, you know, I will play my game and do well again.

Q. Where are you living in the United States now?


Q. Which city?


Q. When you were younger, interested in tennis, did you have role models?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, actually I never had a role model when I was little. Everyone was really surprised because many little kids did have a role model. But I never, never had a role model in my life, never. I did like watching someone on TV and, you know, seeing how good they play or their footwork or this and that. But little parts of their game. I never really had an idol.

Q. What inspired you to get into tennis?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: What inspired me was I just basically started playing, I just started playing, hitting against the wall. As the years went on, you know, it became a little bit more than just hitting against the wall.

Q. Are you getting better every match?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I mean, I think I try to improve from each match. I definitely improved my serve percentage by 10% or so today, so that was pretty good. Today was like 65%, which is not bad. Little things here and there that I think, yeah, I've definitely improved. Since Birmingham, definitely. Why not? You know, it's great improving, of course. Hopefully, you know, I'll improve in the next match.

Q. Do you suffer with nerves?


Q. How do you account for that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just look at the good side, you know. When I step on the court, I think this is Wimbledon, this is like a dream that many little kids have. I say to myself, you know, I just have my game, I'm just going to go out there and do my best, perform and show everyone what I can perform. It doesn't put any pressure on me knowing it's Wimbledon. Knowing the fans are out there cheering, you don't want you to lose. Of course, it's all part of the game. When you're having a tough match, you didn't play well before, you know you got to improve your game, nerves do creep in here and there. But definitely not today.

Q. Just before you came, you were talking about how difficult it was to grow into your height, you were having problems moving.


Q. In the last couple weeks, have you become completely comfortable with your body and footwork?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was definitely tough. I must say it was definitely tough at the beginning of the year. I didn't realize that I had a big, you know, feeling in myself that I couldn't really move. I felt uncoordinated. This was like at the beginning of the year. I didn't know it until I went out and played a match, not a practice match, but a match. When I go out there and, you know, you're there, this is a match, this is a tournament, for some reason, my body just like said, "Huh-uh, no way, you're not going to run to that ball." Once I felt it, I mean, I knew that I was going to get over it. Knew that many players on the tour are quite tall, so I knew that everyone had this problem. Definitely for me I grew fast in a certain amount of time, you know, very short amount of time. But I did, I feel really good now. I've just tooken (sic) a lot of time just practicing. Two months before, I was just at home practicing, you know, getting used to the clay, I was getting ready for the French Open, played a small tournament, you know, saw that I felt pretty good for the first time this year. I won that and was ready for the French Open.

Q. Outside of the grounds, are you starting to turn heads? Are people noticing you when you're away from the tennis courts now, recognizing you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, once in a while. I was told, my agent told me, "Yeah, it's better if you wear a hat and sunglasses," certainly after Birmingham. Birmingham, since I got to the semis, it was getting pretty bad off the streets. So, you know, I came here, and one day I wore a hat and glasses the next day. I come on the streets of Wimbledon village. Okay, I'm going to have a lunch. I just come out of the cafe and there's like three tabloid photographers just right in front of my face. They just jump out. I just start laughing so hard because I knew that I was told. I didn't really care. I didn't think that was going to happen. Yeah, now I'm really careful about it. I don't know if people realize, you know, just walk street and don't look side to side. But probably if I take my hat off and my glasses off, probably.

Q. Do you know how much you grew and in how short a time or how long a time?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know the exact measures. But in a short amount of time, last year, like probably in November it started, or maybe even earlier. Just a period of time where you keep measuring yourself week after week after week. It's like longer and longer and longer. So you say, "When is this going to stop?" But I don't exactly know.

Q. Four inchs? Three inches? You're 5'11" now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I'm 6. I would say, yeah, from 5'10" I went to 6, yeah.

Q. You are so young and successful. Do you think you're mentally prepared for all this?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's part of my commitment when I became a professional tennis player. I mean, this is what a professional tennis player has to deal with. I mean, if she doesn't know about this, or he -- you know, you're going to be like opened eye when someone asks you to go to press. But, no, this is my commitment. Tennis is what I do and what I love. This is part of my job. I just have to, like it or not, deal with it.

Q. In that respect, how easy is it to maybe focus totally on the tennis, not on friends or boyfriends or anything like that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: There are times when you think that, "I don't really want to do this today, because I'm just worned out (sic), I had a long week. I might as well go shopping with my friends or sit at home all day." But there are times when you really have to push yourself because you know that this is what it takes to be a champion one day. But there are times like that. There are times when you just say, "I'm really tired today, and I don't feel like -- I feel like I'm missing out." Then once I have a day off... When I took two or three days off, on the third day, I'm like, "I can't rest anymore. I've got to have a tennis racquet in my hand." It's really weird, because I'm not the person that really likes to practice. I just like the competition. I'm a big competitor, ever since I was a little girl. But when I'd rest like three days at home or go shopping for three days, by the third day I'm just sick of it. I just want to go on the court.

Q. How do you prepare yourself before the match? Are you thinking about your opponent or not thinking?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: The tactics, I do have to prepare tactically-wise because, you know, it is important when you go on the court, you know what you're doing against your opponent. But that's just a little time before the match. Other than that, I've been reading Harry Potter for the last week. Just listening to music, yeah, sleeping as long as you can.

Q. Do you talk to Robert before or after matches?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I talk to him after my matches. I just talked to him.

Q. Where do you get your self-confidence from?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I don't know where I get it from. I've always had self-confidence. I always knew that I could achieve something in life. I mean, if you don't have self-confidence in you, I don't know what you want to do in life. I mean, you got to really say to yourself that, "You can really become this. You can really become whoever you want." If you don't think that, it's a waste of time really.

Q. Do you have any idea how this will play back at home in Russia, the fact you've beaten an established Russian player?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Actually, my mom called my grandparents after my first round win and told them that I won. They're really happy. They turned the TV on, the radio on. The first news they get, they jump out of their seats. I think they're going to show it on the news because they did for the last match, but later in the evening. The news sort of are behind there, you know. But they do get the news. I'm sure my mom will call them right now.

Q. Could you tell us something about your hometown?


Q. Where you were born.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: When I was born, I was born in Siberia. When I was two, I moved to Sochi. When I was six, I moved to Florida. About Siberia, I have no idea. About Sochi, a few things in there that -- I mean, I remember it being really nice because I was playing tennis and I was sort of enjoying myself, didn't do a lot of schoolwork. I was really young. What is there to really think about when you're six years old?

Q. Outside the passport saying you're Russian, do you mostly feel like an American kid?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Growing up, definitely. I mean, I've lived there half of my life. It's definitely a big influence in me, of course, when you live there so long. But I still keep, you know, my feet on the ground and know that I'm Russian inside of me. But I feel different like when I'm with a bunch of kids that have been living in America, and you sort of explain them the story that you were born in Russia, it's really different to them. It's really hard, because they don't really understand. I mean, they know that they've been in the US, but they don't know the world outside, though. So it is a little bit different, but I'm still a Russian inside of me.

End of FastScripts….

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