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March 28, 2011

Maria Sharapova


6-4, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You said the other day that if you won another slam it would mean more to you perhaps than the previous three.

Q. Why?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, because I missed a year being out of the game. I actually didn't really know if I would be back and when and where I would be, at what form, if my shoulder could handle, you know, playing in the tournaments and everything.
Yeah, it was a tough time. You know, you take it for granted every day that, you know, you hit a tennis ball for a living. And then when you can't do it, you realize how much it meant to you and how much it means to you.

Q. Was there a time in that space with the shoulder that you really wondered if you would play again?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I didn't have a lot of people that let me think about it too much. You know, my parents were really, really positive. And, you know, Michael, my coach I had for six, seven years, you know, he was with me every single day of the process and going to Phoenix to rehab it.
I was just constantly trying to get it better. So I definitely had set myself some -- set guidelines when I thought I would get back. I never really met those, so that was really disappointing, because four or five times it happened where I would set a goal and I'd say, I want to be back for that tournament or I think I'm going to get better or you can go out and serve now, I'd go out and serve, and, no, I really can't.

Q. When you're 17 and you hoist that trophy at Wimbledon, do you fully comprehend what you have achieved? Is it possible?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't think -- at that point it isn't. It takes a while and it's really overwhelming. I think you're almost a little bit naive at that point about achieving something like that.
Yeah, I mean, from my perspective, I just didn't think I was physically ready -- wasn't physically matured enough, wasn't strong enough. And mentally, to do it seven matches in a Grand Slam, you know, beating really top players, especially in the final, yeah, I didn't think I was -- yeah.

Q. So what's the big difference between a day like today when you strike the ball and play the way you did today and then some of those days when you had a rougher time, et cetera?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Um, sometimes you, you know, come out, you feel like you're swinging away, and things are going well. You know, you have a good rhythm on your shots; you're moving well.
Sometimes you, you know, come out and you're either flat, you don't have that energy, or sometimes you want to push yourself but you can't.
It just depends on the day. Sometimes the conditions, and sometimes it's maybe your opponent just giving you too much trouble in that particular day.

Q. How do you explain your mastery of her? Even in this period when she's obviously had a very good year and stuff, but you're 7-0, I guess.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I don't know. Oh, my dad's calling me. Sorry, dad. (Smiling.)
Yeah, I have a good record against her, but it's not something that you typically look at going into the match. I mean, I know that she's a very tough player. She's No. 5 in the world. You can't take that for granted going out on the court.
Her serve is one of her biggest weapons. She has a great kick out there and gets more spin than anyone on tour. She'll hang in there with you and she'll be -- you know, she'll be tough, and that's why -- I mean, she's at that spot for a reason, you know.
She's a grand slam finalist and does really well on clay, and many other surfaces, as well. I think I try to take away the good things that have happened me in the previous meetings, and just, yeah, take care of business on that day.

Q. Do you have any pain remaining in that shoulder or numbness at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. No, numbness anymore, no. It sometimes depends on the conditions. If it's cold and one day it's warm and all of a sudden it's cold, I just have to make sure I do an extra warmup.
You know, sometimes if I play for seven, eight days in a row and don't have a break, it's -- you've got to take it easier a little bit than the other days. Just things like that. Nothing too overwhelming.

Q. Have you walked off the court from a match since your injury feeling like that's as well as I've ever played?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, you know, I tend to be a perfectionist. You know, I have said it many times, although I'm, you know, my biggest fan, I'm also my biggest critic, as well. I step off the court winning the match, and I always want to improve.
You know, if it's just a little thing or a big thing, I always feel like your opponents are going to get tougher as the tournament goes on. You're going to have to raise your level. That's how I look at things.
I mean, if I think that I'm perfect, I don't think there's any more goals ahead of you. It's difficult to think that way.

Q. I just mean in terms of not perfection in your game but as well as you've played. You know, I was playing this well in 19--?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In 19--? Well, I was only 13, so... (Laughter.)
I haven't thought about it, but there have been some matches where I felt like little pieces start coming together and you get a sense of the court.
When I came back after missing so many tournaments and matches, the first thing I just noticed was how those natural instincts just go away so much. You really have to -- it's not something that you work -- you work on it, but it's not just something that comes.
You have to play in order to get it back.

Q. Was there a low point where you ever actually considered, I don't know that I'll ever be back? Did you ever think about another career option, or did you always know that you were going to make it back?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I never looked at any options, as tennis is what I've known since I was four years old. It's what I've done every single morning since then.
There is no -- obviously it's tough, because I think the toughest was when I first just tried to rehab for three months thinking that was going to do something, but then it didn't and I had to have my first surgery.
Then when you're 21 and having to make that decision, it also is in the back of my mind that not people have come back from shoulder surgery at all. So that was a tough thought to process.
But I couldn't -- I mean, I really couldn't hit a serve and I couldn't hit a backhand volley, anything that was high. It was just -- I mean, I had to do something, so that was kind of the plan B.

Q. What can you do to play a series of matches like this, which means you end up holding a trophy at the end of the week?

Q. Do you have a feeling for what you need to do differently or what else you need to do in order to be able to get that consistency?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, a lot of it is adjustments throughout the match, and depending on your opponents. You know, if you find yourself with a game plan that's just you come out and you're not feeling it or it doesn't quite work, you just really have to find a way to adjust to your opponent and maybe the conditions sometimes and just really figure it out.
That's the great thing about the sport is that, you know, you have so many points and so many games, and many, many different situation opportunities. Just really got to take care of them.

Q. Your website is linked with Kei Nishikori's at the moment about the Japan charity. Can you talk about that a little bit or how you became involved or wanted to?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. Well, it's obviously a huge tragedy around the world right now. Japan just is one of my favorite countries to visit. First time I went there I think was 13 or 14 years old playing a junior tournament, one of the outside cities.
I've just had such memorable times there. To see the country struggle so much as it is now, I think everyone is trying to do as much as we can. Kei and I are trying to set something up for the tournament later in the year to help raise as much money as we can.
Yeah, I just hope that, you know, with the radiation, that gets taken care of as soon as possible so it doesn't spread and cause it to last really long.

Q. You had complimented Samantha on her serve, but your return of serve today seemed to be very, very spot-on. Could you talk about that a little bit?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, against a good server, that's sometimes even more important than your own serve because it puts a little bit of, you know, thought process into their mind when they step onto the line, you know.
I was quite solid, and in the beginning I thought I made a few more errors on the second serves than I should have. You know, I adjusted to that and I became more solid and started going for it a little bit more and I felt more comfortable.

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