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June 20, 2009

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Michael Stich said today that lady tennis players shouldn't grunt because it makes them unsexy, and sex appeal is the main selling point of women's tennis. Do you have an opinion on that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I don't really have an opinion. I've been out of this game for such a long time that my focus is just to go out on the court and play tennis and do my job.
My job is to go out there and perform and do the best that I can. At the end of the day, it's all about winning and losing for me.

Q. When you come back here now, what's more on your mind: how far you've had to come back after your surgery or the victory in 2004?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, uhm, it's strange, 'cause I feel like last year's Wimbledon didn't really exist for me. So, you know, I only played a couple of matches. The grass season basically didn't exist, as well.
So, uhm, it's just -- I mean, to be here I guess is already an accomplishment in itself, because when I look back to where I was, you know, say, 10 or 11 months ago, or even three months ago, you know, I'm definitely blessed to be here, especially after, you know, playing a few tournaments and getting a few matches on grass already, to be in the field of great players.

Q. How far back are you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. You know, I think every single tournament right now is still a test and it's still -- I think for me it's almost like the beginning of the season, whereas for many players it's already the second half of the season. I'm still testing out where my game is, where my body is, you know, where my shoulder is.
So, you know, it's all a process. Yeah, it's easy to forget. You get in this regime so fast, you know, playing matches, fortunately. But you tend to forget where you were only a few months ago.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the process of coming back. Is it like learning the game from scratch, or is it different?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, you know, for me the first couple tournaments on clay I think is really important because the clay obviously is a little bit slower than the other surfaces. I felt like I could, you know, construct points a little bit more and work on my game; whereas maybe starting on a faster surface would have been a little bit tougher and I wouldn't have had as much time.
You know, hand-eye coordination and reaction are two of the biggest things in this game. And after not playing for a long time, you know, it was the first time where I actually didn't hit a tennis ball for three months in a row. It's definitely, you know, that process of each day trying to get better and better, trying to get your rhythm, work on your game and your quickness and your speed and all those things.
You obviously never know when everything is going to come together, when your body is going to hold up for as many days as it needs to and as many hours as it needs to on the court.

Q. What do you think it will be like for someone like Kim Clijsters that came back from a lot longer layoff than what you just experienced?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I think it's a little bit of a different situation because, you know, she also had a kid. She's also in a little bit of a different stage in her career. I didn't play -- I mean, the main reason why I didn't play was because of my injury and because I had to have surgery.
I mean, look, one way or another it's gonna take time no matter who you are, what your game is. It's always gonna take time to get back out there.

Q. We saw you throwing an American football around. Was that fun, enjoying Wimbledon, or was that for the shoulder as well?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I always do that just to warm up my shoulder, yeah.

Q. You played so many sets to start the French Open. Was that encouraging to be able to do that, or was it worrisome that you had to spend so much time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, to be honest, I was just so excited that I was able to pull some of those matches out, because I hadn't been in those situations in some time. I mean, I definitely had a few letdowns that I normally wouldn't have. I think that's one of the reasons.
You find yourself playing well for a few game and you kind of get on a roll. You stop and think, Well, wait a second. This is a little good to be true. And then you start thinking a little bit, then the level drops. You know, against anyone, you give them a little bit of air and they're, you know, they get back out there and their level rises. You know, you find yourself in a dogfight.
So, you know, I was just very happy with, you know, the way I fought back in those matches and gave myself the opportunity to play, you know, four matches in a Grand Slam competition environment.

Q. This is the one tournament where they don't go strictly by the computer rankings. You've been a beneficiary of that in the seedings here. Do you think that's a good system? Do you think they should continue to do that? Do you think if you were on the other side of the coin you might not think it was a good thing to do?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's strange, because I didn't really give much thought into it before it even came out. I mean, I've been out of the game for so long, I mean, you know your ranking's gonna drop. You know you're not going to be seeded. That's to be expected.
Like I've always said, I don't really -- you know, numbers to me don't mean much. I mean, if you're not a seed, I mean, what's the difference? You might play in the first round, second round, or third one.
At the end of the day, it's really not that big of a deal. Was I surprised? I guess I'd say a little bit.

Q. Do you agree with how they do it here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I don't really know how they do it. I mean, I just know that they can move things around. I don't know specifically how they sit in a room and what their thought process is.

Q. There's a formula they use.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Is there? I'm so clueless on that.

Q. A lot of athletes say when they have to stop what they have been doing for years because of injuries, they come to realize what they really love about the sport. Can you talk a little bit about what was going through your mind in this phase being away from the game?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, there are many things I missed about the game. There's so many little things that go into the preparation of a single tennis match and the few hours afterwards. I miss the whole process of it.
I mean, if it's the hour before the match where, you know, you're in the locker room and you have time to yourself, you know, you're putting on your dress and you see the screen and you know that in an hour you're going to be on that court in front of that crowd. To the ten minutes before where, you know, you're with your team and you're getting pumped for the match the second you go on the court and you hear the crowd and you hear the people, and you're in that environment again. Then the competitiveness of each match and, uhm, pulling through tough situations in the match, or, you know, when you're up trying to close it out.
Uhm, yeah, I mean, I missed many things of the game. I could go on and on.

Q. Was there a point in your recovery when you doubted you would be sitting here today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. To be honest, not really, because I knew -- I knew that, even though I had to have surgery, it was a pretty minor surgery. You know, it was only a 20-minute procedure.
But it was my first one, so I think I didn't really doubt -- at that point you're not really worried about being on the tennis court. At that point, you're just worried about getting out of that hospital room and being healthy, you know, getting rid of that anesthesia.

Q. Do you consider yourself ready to win another championship here, or is that too much too soon to ask after surgery and a long layoff?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think it is. I think it's a little too soon to put that in my mind, you know. I mean, I certainly know that I'm capable of it, and I think if I -- you know, if I do the right things and I play the right way, you know, there's always a little bit of luck involved, as well.
You know, hopefully you take your chances when you have to. You know, if I don't let my opponents get back into the matches, finish them off when I have to, then, absolutely, I think I have a great chance.
But, you know, I will take it one match at a time. This is definitely a time in my career where I can't look into possible third round, fourth round, you know, semis, whatever it is.

Q. What do you appreciate most about Roger Federer?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I think the passion with which he plays the game. It's certainly not easy to play at such a high level for such a long period of time. Uhm, and, you know, I feel like he had such a long run of winning so many Grand Slams.
At the end of the day, people sometimes maybe forget that in a way he's really human and he was able to, you know, have a few letdowns and not win as many matches as everyone thought he should win.
But then he comes out and he proves everybody wrong. You know, he's a tremendous athlete and plays the game so well. Uhm, I mean, you know.

Q. How closely will you follow his progress, even though you're competing here on the other side?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I mean, I love to watch the game, so whenever I'm home and I have free time or I'm getting treatment, the TV's on, I'll definitely watch the matches, for sure.

Q. What will you miss most about Nadal's absence here as it relates to Federer?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's definitely unfortunate. I think unfortunate for him as an individual and as a big competitor to be missing a Grand Slam in which he had so many great memories. As an athlete, you know, I can definitely relate to that.
Uhm, and as far as Federer's chances, I mean, even if Nadal is in the draw, his chances are pretty darn good. So, I mean, can't really -- that doesn't change too many things. I mean, what Federer wants to control, he'll control on the court.

Q. Do you think Venus Williams should be considered the favorite? What is it about her game that has made her so successful at this tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I mean, a few things. She has a very big game, a very powerful and steady game. You know, her serve is a big weapon. Uhm, you know, she uses a lot of her -- a lot of her strengths on this surface really well.
And, uhm, you know, she's just able to do it year after year after year. Certainly with her past results, I definitely think she's the favorite.

End of FastScripts

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