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August 26, 2006

Maria Sharapova

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Maria, please.

Q. How do you feel going into the US Open?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm really excited because I'm going into a Grand Slam with, you know, a lot of good matches behind my belt, you know, a good title, and, most importantly, I feel healthy. So it's good to be back and ready, hopefully.

Q. You are a professional athlete with movie star looks so everybody wants to know, what are you looking for in a boyfriend?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: What am I looking for in a boyfriend? Well, my case is a little different because I'm a professional athlete and I travel around the world 10 months a year, so probably one that understands the business that I'm in and, you know, respects it. But also someone that has, you know, a good sense of humor and, uhm, yeah, I'm not too picky.

Q. So an Andre Agassi-Steffi Graf model, would that be easier, dating a player? He would definitely understand.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Probably, yeah, but, I mean, it's not just about that or the sport you play or the movies that you're in if you're in the same movies. You know, it's about I guess finding a person that you connect with, I guess.

Q. What's changed about your game since we last saw you here last year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: What's changed? Uhm, I definitely feel physically stronger this year. You know, I feel a lot fitter than I did last year, hopefully, you know. But those are just words. Hopefully, I will take that into action.

But overall, I mean, a year, a whole year brings a lot of experience, you know, to my game. But, you know, hopefully that will show here.

Q. There's no Venus, there's no Kim. Who's your biggest obstacle in the way?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know what, I got to focus on each and every single round that I play. I can't worry about what top players are here, not here, who I'm gonna face, you know, later in the tournament. I got to worry about my first round and then go on from there.

Q. Is the US Open more challenging than other Grand Slams?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely, because the city is more hectic and, you know, there's going in and out of the city. I think the other Grand Slams are a little more relaxed. This one has a little bit more buzz so your days go a lot faster. You know, you might be stuck in traffic a little bit going to and from matches.

But, you know, that's the conditions that all the players have to be in, and it's just, you know, a test for everyone.

Q. What would make this a successful Open for you?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: What would make it? A win (smiling).

Q. How has Andre Agassi influenced you, and what are your thoughts on his retirement?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's definitely sad to see such a great champion, you know, leave. I mean, every time you walk by him, you realize and you think of the things that he's achieved and done in his career. But he's had an amazing and long career, so I'm sure that even though he'll miss it, he has a family to go to every single day. I'm sure he's very happy off the court.

But, yeah, I mean, I didn't grow up watching a lot of tennis, but of course I knew who Andre Agassi was. I mean, he had -- God, he changed many times throughout his career. It seems like a whole metamorphosis kind of thing. It's definitely cool to see someone that's achieved so much but is still here and playing the last tournament.

Q. Is change something you'd like to achieve in your career?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think I was ever a rebel (laughing).

No, I don't know. I mean, I hope as the years go on, you know, I mature with my game and as a person. But I don't know. I mean, I can't sit here and think about, you know, how I want to change. I go with the flow of things.

Q. You've worked with a former Colombian tennis player. What's your perception on the Colombian players or the Hispanic players right now?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I knew Fabiola Zuluaga a lot. I used to practice with her because of my coach that I had a while ago. But other than that, I don't really know too much. I mean, it's hard. Everyone asks me about different players. It's hard enough focusing, you know, trying to focus on, you know, on your game and yourself. And trying to focus on other players or their games is pretty difficult, but, yeah...

End of FastScripts...

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