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May 12, 2008

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How does it feel to be back on the red clay?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Good. It feels really good. I got here a few days ago and stepped foot on the red clay finally. You know, it's going to take a little while. I think the adjustments from the green clay and the red clay are quite different, you know, with the balance - and of course there's always sliding - but the balance and the feel of the clay is a little bit different.
But it's exciting to be back in Europe. This time of year I was back home and I didn't play here. And I didn't play any tournaments apart from Istanbul leading up to the French Open. I'm just thankful that I could get some matches in before the French.

Q. What did you do the last three weeks after the last couple of tournaments you did? You started to rest and you started to practice?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I rested a little bit, but my rest turned into a longer rest because I got really sick. I was sick for like five days in bed, so that kind of made my rest period a little bit longer than I wanted to.
So I had just probably a week before I came here, yeah.

Q. Was that sickness related to the heavy schedule that you had been undergoing, or just a normal virus? Do you think you were rundown?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was probably from too much partying for my birthday. I don't know.
No, you just never know when your body is going to, you know, either get hurt or you're going to get sick. These things happen.
I mean, I'm fortunate it happened when I had time off, which was -- is a lot better than it is when you're playing a tournament, so, you know, I had some time to recover from it.

Q. Can you tell us about your birthday party? It sounded good.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was a lot fun. It was a few days after my actual birthday. On my actual birthday I just spent it with -- both of my parents came to New York and all my of my friends came to New York. It's very rare that everyone gets together, but it was the 21st, and everybody made an effort and came there.
You know, we just had a nice family dinner, and then the big party was really fun. It was lot more intimate than my 18th birthday party, so that was good. On the 18th there were so many people that I just didn't know.
This time it was only about 100, 150 people, you know, a majority of my friends. Like I said, it's just rare for me to be able to be in one place and kind of celebrate not just my birthday but the year so far and have a good time together and catch up and do all those things.

Q. What ever became of the photo shoot conflict?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, the timing of the shoot got reduced to about 90 minutes, and I did that yesterday.

Q. Can you tell us about that?

Q. Can you tell is where it was or any of the details?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was a marketing campaign for the tour leading up to the championship.

Q. Shot it in Rome?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Well, I was in Rome yesterday, so yes.

Q. Any particular place in Rome?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm not quite sure. I was riding around in a car for an hour talking -- pretending like I'm talking on the phone. Yeah, that was pretty much it.

Q. Would you say that that's a good compromise from what it might have originally been? Was there some to and fro and everything was worked out?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: The timing compromise was still pretty difficult since it's before a very big event for all of us. Considering the time reduction, it definitely makes that a lot easier than going into a four- or five-hour shoot without hair and makeup, which adds another hour.

Q. We read a lot of stories about yourself, ask most of us don't know you.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I like it that way. I prefer it that way.

Q. It's better for you?

Q. Do you have anything to say that you would like to show, to say to us?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I like to talk, but I mean, I don't know. I mean, what do you want to know? You're here to ask me questions and I'm here to answer them.

Q. The question is: Wherever you go we ask about the place where you stay, and in general players say this is the best tournament and the best city always.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not necessarily. Those are the people that are always politically correct.

Q. This is the reason why I'm asking to you. What do you think about this city? In which way it's nice and which way you don't like? What do you don't like about it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I like Italy in general. The times that I've visited Italy I've visited Rome and Milan. When I was younger, Milan was, by far, my favorite city to any junior tournament that I went to. Milan was always my favorite one.
Just all the churches and the architecture. You know, the church that looks like it's about to fall down; it's made out of sand. I love the Italian language. It's like people are singing a song to you. You're like, Keep talking; keep singing.
It's just a different vibe here. You know, it's very, very European. You know, and then of course every different European city has its different feel. But the people's style and culture.
I would love to see the city be a little more cleaner compared to other major cities. You know, there are so many things to see. A couple years ago I went to the Vatican and did the whole tourist attraction thing, and of course all of that was spectacular and amazing, because I'm a huge fan of architecture.
When I go to those places I love to look at buildings and the way they're built.

Q. You've been critical about the scheduling of the events. With the end of that problem, do you think you can say you've made peace the WTA now, or are you still a bit mad with them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've obviously made my point. I just think I wanted to let my fans know, especially on my website, that, you know, I didn't feel like people were listening to me. I think it's in the best interest of the tour - and the tour as a whole, not just the people that work for the tour.
I think it's in our best interest to listen to all the players. Not just me. Obviously somebody that's ranked 50 or 100 has different issues than somebody in the top 10. But I think all voices should be listened to.
Over the last you few years, you know, all the players have been in numerous amounts of mandatory meetings, and sometimes you go back to a meeting and you feel like you're talking about the same things and having the same issues, and you feel like your voice is never being heard.
That's basically my main -- that was my main thing that I wanted to get out there.

Q. It continues to be an issue?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, look, I mean, everything is a work in progress. You know, when I set foot in Rome, you know, my priority is to play tennis. I already did the talking and, you know, now it's time to play tennis, so...

Q. There is anything that you think WTA should do as the ATP does, and anything that ATP should do as the WTA does?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know what they do, so I -- I think each one has, you know, different people, you know, ahead and different people working for them and different ideas. So I don't know. I really can't comment on that.

Q. On your website you also say that in a couple of weeks it will be something new and important for you.

Q. You wrote that in a couple of weeks it will be something new and important for you.

Q. Is it possible to know now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Why would I write on my website I'm going to report it two weeks from now -- why would you report it now? It's like...

Q. A lot of girls young girls -- not like you that are already a woman --
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm still young.

Q. -- when they're looking for a man --
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, goodness. You Italians. Only in Italy.

Q. -- they look for father. It's the same for yourself?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: To meet a husband? You mean a husband?

Q. You are looking for someone who looks like your father, or no?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Wait, hold on. This question turned into something completely different here. Can you ask the question again so I can understand it?

Q. A lot of girls, when they're looking for a husband, they're looking for someone that looks like a father.

Q. Since always. I mean, it's always been like that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think -- - no, I certainly don't look. No, no. The harder you try the less it's going to come. So, yeah, that's my philosophy on it, you know.

Q. A question about the Olympic Games. You're already on the list of the Russian tennis team. How do you feel about it? And could you confirm the information that you will play in Spain on the final of Fed Cup?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: To answer the first question, I'm absolutely thrilled. It's been a dream of mine since I was a very young girl from watching it on -- in the middle of the night turning the TV on and waking up and watching the opening ceremonies, to following all the athletes and waiting until Russia would walk out.
I would be wearing -- I would find some white hat that they would all bewaring. Obviously mine was completely different, but I was so proud. I was always looking forward to that moment when I somehow could get an opportunity.
It's quite hard to believe that sometimes your dreams can turn to reality. In a few months they will, so that's quite exciting.
As far as the final, if I'm healthy I'm definitely going to be playing.

Q. You think you will live in the Olympic Village?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know yet. I don't know. I don't think so, but we'll see. I'll let you know then. You're getting way ahead of schedule here.

Q. If you could pick the next Grand Slam to win, you would take another Wimbledon or Roland Garros or US Open?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely, Wimbledon.

Q. Do you think that the competition between the top players is as hard this year as it was the previous years?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's tough to say. But, I mean, the depth of the top 10 especially is quite difficult. You know, there are a lot of girls that have a chance to be No. 1 at the end of the year, and, you know -- the interesting thing about it is a lot of the players have different games and have different styles and different varieties.
You know, I think it makes for really good matchups against each other and creates good rivalries, good entertainment, and it's just good for the sport.
In men's tennis you obviously have -- I think the Top 3 right now are kind of ahead of the game. In women's tennis the top 10, especially the top 5, is quite open.

Q. Coming back to the Wimbledon question, you said that's the one you prefer. Is that in any way because you're also making special preparations to focus on that particular Grand Slam, or just that's the one you would pick if you could take it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. It's just the one that's the most special to me. Obviously everybody is different, but ever since I was young that's always been a -- you know, I don't know why.
Obviously it was my first Grand Slam that I won, but I think it also has to do with the fact of the memories that it left me with since I was a junior and the times I played it there. Just the tradition and the respect from the people and the appreciation of the sport and a match.
Just going back to -- I don't think there's a place where first round of the junior Grand Slam event you see a full crowd at a Court 19. It's very rare, and so that just shows you the appreciation that the people and the crowd have for the tennis.

Q. Do you have more satisfaction to write or to read?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: To write. I love to write.

Q. What?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: What do I like to write? Umm, I like to write just things that are on my mind or my thoughts. I think that's -- I like to write for my website, you know. I just like to write, yeah.

End of FastScripts

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