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June 24, 2011

Maria Sharapova


7-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How do you feel you played?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I felt like I started off really slow and, uhm, she started off really well. Quite the opposite of me, I think she was much more aggressive than I was in the beginning.
Uhm, you know, she hit the ball deep. I think I was playing too much defense. And she was serving really well. So it didn't feel like I had too many looks on second serve.
But then, yeah, I just kind of got my rhythm a little bit and started playing better and, yeah.

Q. What were your overall impressions of her performance?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I thought she played really well. Like I said, she started off, you know, really good, hitting the ball deep, on the line many times. I found myself, you know, on the defense just retrieving, yeah.

Q. What kind of potential?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think she has great potential. I think for everyone it's a really long road. You know, there will be many tournaments and many losses and many wins. I think it will just be important to learn from the situations. And, uhm, yeah, obviously it's great and it's important to play in front of thousands of people with the support of the British crowd.
I also feel as you develop your game, it's just as important, you know, to play the lower tournaments, you know, where there's a little amount of people watching and you're in the third set and you have to win those matches 'cause that ultimately leads, uhm, to experience. You learn a lot from those matches.
Yeah, you know, she'll get that experience behind her back and she'll be a better player.

Q. What for you is the biggest challenge on your serve right now? What's the difference between when it's really on and when it's troublesome?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, you know, I was down 4-1 in the first set. I think at that point my percentage of first serves was for sure below 50. It might have been 30 or 40. Especially on grass, I think that's just really, uhm, really low, and that gives your opponent so much advantage 'cause, you know, they can just step in and feel like they can go for their shots more. You're not really putting pressure on them.
First of all, I think my percentage has to go up. I was more consistent. I was maybe rushing a little bit today. In the second set, I started feeling better on that shot.

Q. Is there a technical difference that you can point us to when things are going well and the first serve is where you want it and then when it has its lapses?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it's just important to get a good rhythm on it, you know, just to have a good rhythm. Usually that's when I feel my best.

Q. In Paris you mentioned how you liked to observe as you travel around the world. Could you just compare the show court crowds in the three different countries when you've played these kids?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Tough to compare, you know, the U.S. crowd to anywhere else just because they're so loud and there's just so many more people in that stadium than anywhere else in the world. I think they're more polite here, even though they're enthusiastic.
I think in New York there's so many sports. They love their beer. I'm sure they love their beer here, and Pimm's, as well. But I think the U.S. people take more advantage of it.

Q. And Paris?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, yeah, in Paris, they were really rooting for her. She had so many opportunities in that second set. I was down a set and 4-1, I believe. Yeah, so they were really rooting for her.
But I was really lucky to win that one.

Q. Was the match tougher than you expected today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely not. I expected her to come out and play really well. Uhm, I don't think she had anything to lose in this match. I think that brings out the best in someone when they go out and they play free and they just go for the lines, yeah.

Q. You just mentioned you're a veteran of the tour. How does it feel to be a veteran? Is there any trace of your teenage player self that you'd like back?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't have any regrets about being 24. I think that's relatively quite young (smiling). You know, I have to say I'm very fortunate, you know, that I got to get experience on the tour from a very young age by winning many matches. I think everybody's success comes in different parts of their career and in their life.
I had never expected to have success at such a young age. You know, it teaches you a lot. It's great. But it's also quite tough. But it gives you so much experience, and I think you learn so much even though there are many tough and bad days. But, yeah, I don't regret one second at what age I am.

Q. Would you have one little nugget of advice for Laura who is just starting out on her pro career?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She's got to keep learning and keep playing and keep working hard. You know, that's really what it comes down to, is just grinding it out; like I said, grinding out the matches where you don't necessarily have thousands of people behind you.
You're kind of in the middle of nowhere, playing lower tournaments where you feel like maybe you can throw your racquet a few more times than maybe a center court at a bigger venue.
Yeah, learning. I think learning is a big thing.

Q. How did they compare to Maria Sharapova when you were 17?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm not sure. I think that's your job to compare, not mine.

Q. You left Europe, and now we see this continent is dominating both tours. Why do you think that is?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, tennis just wasn't a big sport in Russia when I was growing up. It was about other sports. Facilities were really tough to get to. Yeah, I mean, many things have changed since then, since we've had many great players coming from Russia.
I think many young girls and boys wanted to play tennis, so there are more opportunities and more facilities. But it's still not as good as it can be; and coaches, as well. I think for that reason we had to move.

Q. There were some comments made on the television about how loud you were when you were hitting the ball today.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm sure it's not the first time.

Q. Do you think you were noticeably louder than you have been in the past, and do you think it's off-putting for your opponent?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm not sure. Like I said, I think that's your job, not mine, to judge.

Q. You talked about learning. Could you talk about how your mental toughness has evolved over the years since you were a younger player? Is that something you've worked on?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I think, you know, experience is a big thing. I think it's really priceless. But I don't think, you know, that calmness and that mental toughness is something that you can just go to someone and someone can teach you about it.
I think it's just how you see certain situations instead of just being too negative, even though it's something that you want to do. And of course it's so easy to get down on yourself, want to throw your racquet, complain about things. But I think positive thoughts and things just lead you to much better results.
I mean, it's something that you can definitely work on, absolutely. Yeah, it's challenging. But I think experience has really helped me.

Q. You're a former champion here. Do you think the Williams sisters or women in general have a legitimate beef with some of the court placement?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm not following you.

Q. They've complained about being out on Court 2. Maybe some of the former champions are not being placed on some of the show courts.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You're not including me in that, are you?

Q. I'm saying the Williams sisters. In general, do you feel they have a legitimate beef about that or the women aren't getting the proper placement?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have no problem with playing on Court 2 or 3. I think they're pretty big courts. I actually played on Court 2 in my first round, I believe, last year. It gave me that vibe.
One of my favorite courts at Roland Garros is that bullring court. It's that second court, as well. I think it's a great feeling inside. It gave me a similar feeling of Court No. 2. Maybe it's a little bit of a longer walk, but a good warmup.

Q. Laura Robson obviously gained some experience playing you today. Do you think there's anything you've learnt from the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think no matter what the score is, whether I'm up or down in the match, I'm just happy that I came through. She had many opportunities being up 4-1, and in the tiebreak, as well, being up. You know, I took my chances when I had them.

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