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June 29, 2006

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Maria Sharapova. Can we take questions, please.

Q. Very pleased with that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I was. I thought I was playing, you know, pretty solid. You know, she's a pretty good hitter. You know, I played her in Australia. I had a pretty tough second set. I knew she's definitely playing a lot better than I played her, you know, when we were in Juniors. We've played a few times already, so I knew her game quite well.
No, I thought I did a lot of things good and came in at the right time.

Q. Do you feel you're playing better than when you won it here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't look back and think how I played, you know, years ago or months ago. I don't do that, no.

Q. You must feel as though you're improving?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I mean, you know, I didn't think I had enough of a challenge to see where my game was at in the first round. You know, the points were very quick. But played a few rallies and I definitely did a lot of things good.

Q. How do you like playing on Court 2?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I was waving to the fourth corner, couldn't quite find any people in the end (laughter).
No, you know, I saw Amélie play there yesterday, saw Justine play there. It's good. I think the fans can get to see up close and personal.

Q. Have you had any particular amusing experiences on the outer courts in your earlier years playing here? Can get pretty hectic and distracting if you let it.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I remember I played my fourth round against Kuznetsova on some back court where, you know, people were going one way and the other. That was my last -- that was my last experience of that.
But, uhm, yeah, ever since, I don't think I've played one of those courts where the people walk side to side.

Q. Difficult? Distracting? How would you describe it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, it's a different atmosphere, yeah. You know, when you go from playing on the court where everything is settled. You know, when you're ready to serve, everybody is pretty quiet. You know, on the other courts, there's a lot more going on. You hear a lot more things. So, yeah, it's a little bit of a different atmosphere.
But, you know, when I won here, I played first two rounds on Court 13, yeah.

Q. That match when you played Kuznetsova was on 18, three years ago. How has Wimbledon changed for you emotionally? You were 16 then, you win it.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, a lot of things. Uhm, looking back, it was only three years ago, and you think of what's happened since.
But, yeah, you know, only three years ago I was playing on that court, and now, you know, you're playing on show courts. It's, you know, definitely, uhm, a cool thing to think about.

Q. What gives you the most confidence on these courts right now, what you did two years ago or what you're doing right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I don't know. That's a tough one. You can't really look back -- look back at two years ago, and think that's going to bring you confidence. Obviously, winning a Grand Slam, you know, being in the top five, you know, you should be pretty confident. But, uhm, but you don't look back at that and think, Yeah, well two years ago I won it so now I'm really confident. I usually look at the present and, uhm, you know, try to work around the things that are present, you know, not in the past or in the future, and just see what I have.

Q. What is your level of confidence right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I mean, it's all right, I guess. It's hard to say. You know, I've definitely -- I definitely feel like I've -- you know, I played pretty solid today. But, uhm, it's only going to get tougher from here. You know, it's a matter of stepping it up, uhm, and coming up with the goods when I need it.

Q. Can you talk about your family, the role that plays in supporting you as a tennis player. I know that's important to you.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, my family is, uhm, a big part of my life. They've basically been, you know, with me through the good times and the bad. And those are the two people that I, uhm -- you know, that I come to in good times and in bad, you know, look for advice. You know, I don't get to see my mom that often.

Q. How come you don't see her much?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She doesn't like the tennis world. She doesn't feel like it's her gig, you know. She does a lot of -- you know, she's taking care of her houses, doing all the money side part of it, you know, working on my charity and stuff like that. But, uhm, you know...

Q. Speaking of family, your dad looked the happiest today when you were moving inside the court to take the short balls. How much is he and Michael emphasizing that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, they were, you know, because putting that little pressure on my opponent, uhm, you know, just making them guess a little bit, that's really important, especially here because, you know, if you can take advantage of the first ball, look to come in, uhm, you know, I start moving better when I look to come in. Personally, I feel like I start going. You know, if I wait for the ball, uhm, you know, I can get a little bit sloppy.

Q. Given all the problems you had with the shoulder and chest last year, where are you now with serving? Do you feel like you're hitting it harder or as hard before you had that injury?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I mean, speed-wise, I'm not sure what I hit last year. I hit one I think 114 yesterday. And, uhm, you know, that's pretty good.
But I don't really believe in power. I think consistency and coming up, you know, with the good solid serve with good placement on a big point is a bigger key than hitting a 120 at 15-Love. That kind of thing.
I changed my motion a little bit, uhm, after Nasdaq, at the beginning of the serve. But, uhm, speed-wise, you know, I think it's going to take a few years, uhm, to actually get it big and strong.

Q. Looking for 125 at some point?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, we'll talk about that when I get there (smiling).

Q. You're a stamp collector.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, God, stop. Everyone's calling me a dork now.

Q. Is that something you do for fun?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: My agent said not to talk about that because he's definitely gotten so many emails from people.

Q. I'll talk about it with him.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't think he wants to talk about that. We're getting emails from, like, stamp collecting magazines asking if I can do an interview. I mean, it's just a hobby. I'm actually good telling stories, but that is one I should have never talked about.

Q. You do it for fun then?

Q. You don't grunt? It's not intense?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No (laughter).

Q. What is your favorite stamp then?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, my goodness. Let's get off this subject because I'm going to be an absolute geek tomorrow (smiling).

Q. Some of the players are bringing their iPods with them. They have particular songs they use to psych themselves up. Are you listening to anything in particular?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I always change. I don't know, I'm always different. I was just listening to Nelly Furtado's new CD. She sounds really rebellious these days. Other than that, I change all the time. I don't have any particular person that I listen to before the match.

Q. You're not feeling particularly rebellious these days?

Q. You're not feeling that way? Is that why you don't like the CD?

Q. You said Nelly Furtado, she's sounding very rebellious.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, before she used to sing these really, you know, slow and emotional songs. Now she's just getting to the point.

Q. And you like that or you don't like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I love it. She's a strong girl (smiling).

Q. Can you comment on what Andre Agassi has meant to tennis and do you have a particular moment in his career which is your favorite?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: There isn't a particular moment, but, I mean, I didn't follow his career too much. I've obviously known what he's achieved. I saw a special on him on TV the other day while it was raining the whole day. I don't know, looking back, you know, seeing what he's achieved, the emotions he's gone through, I don't know, he's had an amazing career.
But, I mean, he's an inspiration to so many people.

Q. The Chinese weren't here last year at Wimbledon. When you look at the draw, the number of players from China, India, Taipei, in your mind is it going to be very long before we see a player from Asia challenging for Grand Slams?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think so because, honestly, I think tennis is evolving in those countries so fast. I mean, it's growing. Every time I go to China, people get so excited about tennis. You know, young kids, you see a lot of -- I mean, clinics mean more to them than actually seeing a match. They want you to do lots of clinics and inspire young girls and boys. With that and, you know, the amount of money they have in order to build that, I think for sure you'll see it very soon.

End of FastScripts...

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