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June 26, 2007

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Maria Sharapova. Questions, please.

Q. Are you happy with that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was happy with the way I started, you know, with the way I controlled the match. Didn't feel like I did the same thing the second set. I was a little bit passive, especially on her second serves, which I attacked really well in the first but didn't really take advantage of in the second. I think that was clearly the difference, especially in the score.

Q. When you feel yourself doing that during the set, you're not the same in the first, but you can't change it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I started thinking about it later in the second set. Especially when you're in the match, I served pretty well, was able to hold my serve when I needed to. I lost that one break in the second.
Other than that, if you look at what really was the difference, I think it was just I wasn't as aggressive on my return game.

Q. Seemed almost to be more frustrated with yourself than with the challenge in front of you. Was that the case, particularly during the second set?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I wasn't really frustrated, no, not at all.

Q. We all know how competitive you are. If you were to take eight to ten weeks off and just get rid of the shoulder problem, you'd miss the US Open, a lot of tennis that you don't want to miss. But thinking long range, why isn't that the best solution for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, because doctors say it doesn't really make a difference if I take time off or not. I don't know why, but they say if I can play with it, if the pain is not too severe.
I think it's more they tell me it's more of a strength issue, and that's something that's going to be very important after this tournament. Probably the three weeks I'll have of no tournaments I'm going to be working on a lot of strength.
Right now during the tournaments and between the tournaments, the week you have, you're not going to be lifting 15-pound weights. You're going to be doing tube exercises, more protection stuff, rehab stuff. So basically preventing injury.
Whereas I think for the stability of my shoulders, my upper body, I think I'll need to do a little bit more strength, which I'll have time for hopefully.

Q. If after taking those three weeks off you work diligently on that, by the time San Diego, Stanford, you don't feel any significant improvement, will you rethink what you want to do?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Then you think of step B. I mean, I was out for two months pretty much. I didn't play a tournament for about two months, which was pretty long-term.
Are you saying absolutely no tennis for two months?

Q. You're so young, so much career ahead of you. Is there an endangerment this will linger on for two or three more years?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: As long as the doctors give me a green light. After I took the MRI after the Miami tournament, they said, You have a pretty serious injury. Would you rather take a shot or rest for eight weeks, because you'll be able to recover faster with the shot? The shot was clearly the better option.

Q. You could take another shot at some point this year if you needed it mid summer, the fall?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I want to try to stay away from the shots as much as possible?

Q. Because?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, first I hate needles. Second of all, I don't think cortisone is the best thing for your body, especially when you're 20 years old.

Q. Are you able to play around the shoulder now? Are you used to the pain? You can say that you'll rip big serves, go all forehand, forget about the pain, that's what you need to do during the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Some days are better than others. Some days I don't have as much confidence in my arm as I do. During this tournament, I will have to be on antiinflammatories if anything. Especially in these conditions when it's so cold, the balls are heavy, even heavier than they were at the French Open. It's like everything's going against it.
But it's just really how you deal with it. Like I said, as long as I get an okay from the doctors, you know, I saw them before this tournament began. They did a checkup. I got a scan.
They've given me a green light as long as I can manage the pain. It's in my hands to manage it as much as I can.

Q. What would Yuri like you to do?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yuri (laughter)? What would he like me to do? I know what he'd like to do. He'd like to go up in the mountains and ski all year long. But as for myself, he wants me to be healthy. That's the bottom line. Because, first of all, when I'm not healthy, I'm not happy. It's hard going on the court and not being happy, yeah.

Q. You really did look like a swan in that dress.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you. I'm glad you got the point. I hope everyone else did (laughter).

Q. Do you identify with swans in some way?

Q. You made a point of it being a sort of a swan-inspired dress.

Q. Do you feel some sort of kinship with the bird?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think that was the initial inspiration with the dress. Originally it didn't have as many pleats in the back. I wanted there to be more of a pleat effect in the back, and I think the end result made it look more like a swan. Even on a hanger, it doesn't look as swan-ish as it does on me (laughter).
I don't know. I just put reference to it because a swan is usually white, right, unless it's weird.

Q. They are a protected bird here.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Was that really necessary (laughter)?

Q. Do you think they have a hawk here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: A hawk? It's a swan.

Q. They have a real hawk patrolling the grounds every day at 9:00.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Does the hawk usually bite the swan? I don't know, does it? Jesus, I might have to cut those pleats away.

Q. Is it your favorite dress from all the dresses they made for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I wouldn't say it's my favorite. I mean, there's only so much you can do with white, and it's always going to be traditional. You just think of little creative things and details you can add to a dress.
I'd probably say the black dress I wore at the US Open last year has to be one of my favorites just 'cause it was -- well, I won in it, and it was very beautiful. The whole idea behind it, you know, Breakfast at Tiffany's, everything came together. It was like a perfect solution.
What other favorites do I have? I mean, I think the one at Nasdaq that I wore, the corset top with the skirt, that was another one of my favorites because that was a little more risque than others.

Q. Basically other than everything, which is the expected response, what has to work for you specifically in order for you to win the tournament, what part of your game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just confidence, knowing that I can -- first of all, knowing that I've won here before and taking that to the court again and visualizing myself, when I'm down in a certain situation, knowing that I can come up with a good shot, forcing it in your mind more than anything.
I know that I've got it. I know I can do it. It's just about taking that situation and coming up with the shots when I need it.

Q. Is it mind over matter with your shoulder the way it is?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, definitely.

Q. Does it make it that much harder to be confident when your shoulder's in the state it is?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The less you think about it, the better, yeah. That's why if you ask me another question, I'll start thinking about it more.

Q. At the French Open I saw your dad laughing and smiling.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Really? Shocking.

Q. Can you talk about him. We really don't know that much about your dad.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: My dad's a character. But unfortunately you only get to see my dad when I'm playing tennis matches, and you only get to see him on the stands. I mean, he by himself would make a really good reality show. That's one of the things I propose to him actually now or after my career is over. He's a really hilarious guy in his own way without even thinking about it or trying to be funny. He is.
He has a huge heart. I don't think a lot of people see it. For both my mom and dad to sacrifice so much, I mean, he's got to have a heart. I'm very lucky because he probably loves me more than anyone else in the world. He's been with me through all the good times, through all the bad times. We always have our good moments. We always have our bad moments, daughter/dad moments, plenty of those.
But we get over it really fast. At the end of the day, we're very close. Our family is very close. I think that's what really has helped me so much in my career, has held me so grounded. At the end of the day, I have my mom, who I can just call and she'll give me like a story of life and make me feel so good.
And my dad, who really just wants me to be happy. Win or lose a tennis match, he can get off the court, and if I played terrible, he's like, Are you kidding me? That was not Maria. It's your sister. Bring her back.
So in his own way he's tough and he's definitely taught me to be tough in life and in tennis. But at the end of the day he has a huge heart, and that's what makes him really special.

Q. Does his humor come from his innocence or love of life?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not a lot of people get his humor. You have to really understand it. If you're around him, he just does things. I always say, Are you serious? He's like, What, what did I do?

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