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September 3, 2006

Maria Sharapova

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Pretty clean?

Q. Except for the two games in the second set, you seemed to be in control.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I felt pretty solid in the first set. It's hard to come out there and feel great with the wind. Especially when you don't get a lot of practice the day before, you don't really you can be playing really solid tennis but then go out a day later on a day like this and not feel your best.
I was a little bit slow in the first game. I knew I had to step it up. She has a lot of experience behind her back. She's a very solid player. She's had a lot of good wins in her career. She knows how to play against top players. I expected a really tough match. I was ready. That little break in the first game of the second set was a little bit of a wakeup call and I knew I needed to step it up.

Q. Next round could be potentially very tough. She's playing at a high level.

Q. Runs a lot of balls down, hits with a lot of power. Just talk about that, playing her.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah. I've had a couple past meetings with her this year, and, uhm, you know, she's improving with every month. She's a very tough and solid player. Great mover on the court. Gonna make me hit a lot of balls, obviously.
But that's, you know, her game. I got to go out there and, you know, I've beaten her the last couple times. Just got to go out there and try to do the same thing and come out with a win. But, yeah, looking forward to it.

Q. A lot of people are talking about the emotions of watching Andre go out the last time. Talk about your own feelings, whether you watched it, what you thought.

Q. Yeah.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I did watch it. You know, I really appreciate people that not only do things, you know, in their sport or in their profession, but outside of it. And, uhm, he's just such an inspiration to so many people around the world, you know, with what he's done for the sport, for charity, just working with children. I really respect him as a person in many ways.
Of course it's really sad to see such a legend and such a champion come off the court and know that was his last match and he's not gonna, you know, come back, be on that stadium again. But know that he has a lot of things to look forward to in his normal life. He's got children.

Q. Have you ever seen anyone who connects with fans the way he connects with them? It was a legitimate lovefest out there.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah. It's amazing. I mean, was it 21 years, consecutive years that he's been here? I mean, that just shows you the love of, you know for what he's doing. That's the passion that he has for it, you know.
Without the fans, I mean, you definitely won't see that. The fans have a lot to do with it. They can bring you from two sets to love down and help you win the match.

Q. Didn't seem like tonight Likhovtseva had anything to hurt you. I think she had four winners the entire match. Did you feel the match was in your court to win or lose?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, not necessarily. Uhm, you know, I don't really count how many winners or unforced errors she's making. I mean, I know she's got a lot of experience behind her back right now. I always expect a tough match from any opponent I play. I can't go out there thinking it's gonna be easy, especially in conditions like this. I haven't played in that windy conditions since probably I played Kim in San Diego. It was just a matter of adjusting a little bit.
Like I say, you're never gonna play your greatest tennis this these conditions. You got to adjust to the feeling of the ball, to the pace. The wind was just blowing in one direction. So on one side you were late, you know, going to the ball. On the other side, you're late preparing because the ball's coming hard at you.
It's not only just looking at what your opponent is doing, but also kind of telling yourself you need to move a little bit more and be smarter on your serve.

Q. Going into the second week, you've been in a lot of them, is the feeling once Monday comes, Okay, now the tournament really begins, we've gotten past our potential bumps and everyone left is pretty good?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Second week of a Grand Slam is obviously gonna be a lot tougher than the first. I mean, that's a no brainer.
But, yeah, you know with every match you got to play better and better tennis to win it. You know, that's what it's all about at the end of the day.

Q. Speaking of charity, it's on TV that you might be auctioning off some copies of the black dress.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, yeah, for my foundation. Yeah, I just launched my foundation a couple weeks ago. It goes towards at risk children. You know, basically children that don't get the opportunity to do the things that they dream of and want to do. I mean, you know, I grew up wanting to be a tennis player. Never knew if that was gonna be a reality. I never knew if I could be No. 1 in the world.
You know, one of the greatest things about being an athlete and making money is realizing that you can help, you know, help the world, and especially children who I absolutely love working with.
Yeah, but I have on my site, I'm auctioning off, you know, my dresses and my equipment. Yeah, I'm working with my sponsors a lot, too, to do a lot of those things with charity.

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