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June 22, 2009

Maria Sharapova


M. SHARAPOVA/V. Kutuzova
7-5, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. In Paris you played with a lot of enthusiasm and energy. As far as your level of fitness is concerned, are we seeing Maria almost a hundred percent or getting close to it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think there's still work to be done. I think, uhm, all the matches that I've been playing have really helped me, you know, definitely not just with my tennis but also physically, you know, getting used to the movement on the court as well as, you know, moving on two different surfaces.
But, uhm, you know, I always feel like I move pretty good on grass.

Q. The other day you spoke of probably not being ready to go all the way at this particular event. How much more do you think you need to feel confident in your status right now to feel that you are ready to go all the way here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I think it's just a matter of a few things coming together. Uhm, you know, you never really know.
You know, sometimes you produce good tennis, but it doesn't work out the way you want it and you come out with a loss. Sometimes, uhm, you know, you don't produce exactly the right tennis that you want to, but, you know, sometimes you win.
And, you know, in tennis, there's a very thin line between winning and losing, and, you know, sometimes you just got to rely on the work that you put behind you. You got to go on the court and trust that whatever you've worked on, you know, is gonna work out there.
Uhm, you know, it's just the combination of a few things coming together, you know: body feeling good, you know, playing good, moving well. You know, I'm just glad, you know, I pulled through today.

Q. How much did you learn about your game and how far along you are in today's match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I played against a really solid opponent, you know, who went for many shots and who's just being really aggressive, you know, playing like she didn't have much to lose, which she didn't.
And, uhm, you know, I knew she already had, you know, three good matches in qualifying, so I knew that she's already played on grass. You know, her game suits the grass pretty well. She can definitely be a really dangerous opponent.
But, you know, if she can keep that level up the way she did in the first few games for two or three sets, then sometimes it's just too good, you know.
But I was only down a couple breaks, and I knew that the set wasn't over. You know, I got it back, and then just hung in there in the second.

Q. You said in the last tournament that you weren't able to put everything into your serve. How long will it take you to get that back to normal, do you think?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, I think definitely time. I don't know how long. You know, I don't know how long till everything comes together. You know, that's why I'm here. You know, if I knew, maybe I wouldn't be here. If I knew I wasn't going to be at this tournament, maybe I'd be home just waiting till I knew when it would come.
But, you know, you never know how you're gonna feel. You know, you look forward to the daily challenges that come your way. And, uhm, you know, I think everything is gonna take time, you know.

Q. Is it a matter of lack of confidence going flat out or is it just caution?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You know, it's funny because sometimes I'll be in the middle of the match and I'll find myself thinking, like, the progression of the shoulder, how it's feeling. Uhm, obviously that's because I haven't played in so long and because the shoulder has, you know, just been the focus in so many areas, you know, on a daily basis for the last couple of years.
I think it's also just a matter of forgetting about it and just playing, you know.

Q. In all that time in Paris on the clay, is it a comfort to come to the grass?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. I think my game, you know, suits the grass a lot better than the clay. But, you know, with that said, I also feel like the grass has changed in the last few years. It's definitely not playing as quickly as it did when I won here in '04.
You know, there are many balls that come back. You know, the mentality that you have here now has to be similar to the clay. You know, you got to expect many balls to come back, and not every ball's gonna be a winner. I think the ball bounces clearly much lower than it does on clay, and that's why the serve and return are key.

Q. What aspect of your game are you most pleased with today? Is there something you plan on working on specifically at your next practice session?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, look, I hung in there. You know, like I said, if she was able to continue at the level that she was playing in the first few games where she was just swinging away, everything was deep and hard, sometimes it's just too good.
But, you know, I was able to give her a little bit of her own medicine there. You know, I just stayed consistent. You know, I made her play an extra ball. You know, I thought I returned pretty good today. Her serve stayed pretty low.
Yeah, I mean, there are definitely things I'm going to be working on the next, you know, day or so. But that's always the case at every single tournament. You always -- I mean, if you feel perfect, then there's something wrong.

Q. You were away for so long. What did you miss the most about professional tennis? Now that you're back, what do you miss about having a normal life away from tennis?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Maybe you can read my transcript from the interview I did before the tournament, because I listed a few of the things that I missed.
But, you know, I'm a big competitor, and I love going out on the court and competing. I love having a challenge in front of me. And, uhm, I didn't feel like I had -- obviously getting back on the court was a big challenge when I was away from tennis, but I didn't feel like I had that big of a challenge.
You know, whereas on the court, uhm, when you're playing in front of a crowd the feeling is completely different, and you realize that's where I belong. You definitely miss the feeling of being in those situations in the hours before the match, the days before, knowing that you're gonna be playing, you know, at Wimbledon or the French Open.
Uhm, and as far as what I miss about playing... Well, I spent so much time at home, more than I have in my career, you know, that even though I've been on the road for a few weeks now I don't really miss much. I'm just so happy to be on the tour. You know, whatever I takes, as many matches as I can play, I'm happy.

Q. When a player wins as much as you have...

Q. Anything. Matches, titles. Isn't it difficult at times not to focus on results?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it's not so much results; it's knowing what you're capable of and always, you know, thinking that you should be able to bring it at a certain time, at a certain point in the match.
Uhm, but not so much right now. Not at this point in my career. You know, like I've said, and I'll say it again, I mean, I'm so thankful. If someone told me four months ago that I'd be here playing Wimbledon, you know, I mean, I wouldn't be surprised, but I would be really happy about the fact. And I am happy to be here.

Q. You played both Venus and Serena here on grass. Can you describe the differences of their games on this surface.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I haven't played them on grass in a while, so...
I actually haven't played both of them in a while. So I don't know. I forgot.

Q. But you've played them before on this surface.

Q. What is the difference in how their ball comes back to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, they're both very aggressive players, and they have a very powerful game and big service games, big return games. You know, they're just one ball steadier, and have been in the last few years, than the rest of the field.
Uhm, but I don't know. I can't really specify the differences because I haven't played them in a while.

Q. Do you think women's tennis could benefit from becoming best-of-five sets? Any reason why women shouldn't be playing best-of-five?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I've never played best-of-five. I don't know what that would feel like or what that would look like. I don't know.

Q. What does Wimbledon mean to you? What's so special about this tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, a few things. I think it's a little bit different than any other tournament in the feeling of where you're playing. To me, it feels like this is where tennis is meant to be played, for some reason. It feels very traditional.
You know, we only play a couple tournaments on grass. You know, when you get on it, it's just a feeling of, uhm, to me excitement because I've definitely had, you know, wonderful memories here and good results in the past, ever since I was a junior. You know, winning obviously helps. Winning unexpectedly definitely helps.
But, you know, it's the little things like, you know, living in a house, you know, having a normal key instead of like the hotel key, you know, cooking your own breakfast, I don't know, making your own tea. You feel like you're a little bit -- it's a little homely. Everything is close if you're in the village. You don't have to be in too much traffic, unless you're staying in London.

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