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June 23, 2012

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Maria.

Q.  You've now got all four.  Does that give you a little bit of a sense of you no longer have anything to prove to anyone and has it risen your confidence level a bit?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I never really went about my career thinking I had to prove something.  I think it's more about proving to yourself than maybe the outside world, and expecting things from what you believe you can achieve rather than what others believe you can achieve or don't believe.
But I'm certainly very happy with what I achieved, but that doesn't make me less eager to want to achieve more.  Obviously when I was coming to the French for the last three years, it's been the one that I hadn't won, so that was sort of the storyline.
Maybe there will be a new one now.  It would be a nice change (smiling).

Q.  Coming off of the French Open victory, how have your preparations been coming into Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Really good.  This the second year I'm not playing a warmup tournament before.  It's an extremely busy summer for me.  I don't think I was physically ready to go out and play a warmup tournament.  I've been here for more than a week now and practicing and getting ready.
Been fortunate the weather has held up really well, so I've had a lot of grass court practice.  Yeah, it's been good.

Q.  No player has won the French Open and Wimbledon back to back since 2002.  People think you have a chance.  How much of a physical challenge and mental challenge is that to get back and sort of prepare for first‑round matches?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, of course.  I think it's the toughest back to back Grand Slam‑wise, no doubt.  Especially if you're coming off a French Open win or a final it's the toughest turnaround.  As much as you want to celebrate and enjoy, you come here and it's like a whole new ballgame.
But I think that's the beauty of tennis.  There's so much out there to achieve.  It always seems like it's back to back, so that's nothing really new.
But as far as the success I had at the French Open, my first time getting to the finals and winning it and coming here, I think it's not really what has been achieved before, I think it's going out there and trying to achieve something that you want to do.

Q.  What did you take from your experience of the final last year?  Obviously there was an initial disappointment, but did you think it was a real steppingstone back to winning another slam?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yes, for sure it was definitely a big step for me in the right direction.  It was the first time in a few years where I had reached the end of Wimbledon.  It had been a while.  It was just really good to be at that stage of a Grand Slam again.  I was really happy that I was here.
Yeah, but you come off that loss, and as tough as it is to lose Grand Slam finals, probably one of the toughest things for a tennis player, it's really about getting yourself back out there and improving and hoping for another chance.

Q.  What do the Olympics mean to you?  Especially this year, what are you most looking forward to?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yes, so much.  I've expressed my excitement I think for the entire year already.  It's been a dream of mine since I was very young.  Tennis in Russia when I was growing up till the age of seven was not very big.
Over the years, you've seen how successful it has become in my country and now how important it is to be a tennis player as part of the Olympics.  Also it will be my first one and something I've dreamed of since I was a young girl, so I really can't wait.

Q.  And the honor with the flag?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It was huge.  I had to read the text message five times and read it to other people to make sure I got it correct.
But, yeah, I got it in the morning after my third round at the French Open saying if I would do something like that.  I didn't even know if that was a question, but I was very happy to accept.  (Smiling.)
Q.Can you trace the evolution from the shoulder operation in October of 2008?  Was there a time when all of a sudden you thought that it was okay?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  That the shoulder is okay?

Q.  Or the serve had come back, you felt more confidence in it.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  There wasn't one particular day.  It was really a process.  You go for a period of time where you feel good, and then there's a change, a change of weather, the ball is a little bit heavier, and then you feel it at times.  I mean, it's still to this day.
I'm much more experienced about it.  I'm much more aware of it and I know what to do.  I am much more disciplined with the physical rehabilitation aspect of it.  I just know it's something I'll have to do for the rest of my career.
Sometimes when it feels better you're like, Okay, I'm done.  It doesn't work that way, unfortunately.

Q.  In the early days it kind of had a mind of its own.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah.  I never had surgery before so I didn't really know.  I hoped for the best.  The doctors and everybody was pretty optimistic.  I guess that's what you pay them for, or part of it.  But I don't know if they were always right.

Q.  You talked about how quick the turnaround is between Roland Garros and coming here.  Did you actually allow yourself time to celebrate that victory?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I don't know.  'Celebration' I think has many different meanings.  It has different meanings for everyone.  For me it was a different feeling than the other Grand Slams I won.  I was just much more content with the way I felt, just more pleased.
Like before you're kind of like, Wow, this is amazing.  But I was really happily easygoing.  I didn't feel like I needed a huge celebration.  I mean, I was walking around for three days with the biggest smile.  Then I got here, and I better get back to reality.
But, yeah, it was a really nice moment.

Q.  How would you describe the role confidence has played in your success, and where is that confidence level at this moment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Confidence is a huge part of any sport, I feel like.  You can get it by winning matches.  That helps.  But I would say I've certainly had my ups and downs from the injury.
Since I came back there are times where you feel more confident, but you come out and you don't perform so well.  I don't take confidence really seriously because I think you can get a little bit ahead of yourself.
I always think if you think everything is great and you're feeling good, then you should be extremely worried.  That's the way I think about it.

Q.  In what ways does your game get better now moving from clay to the grass maybe because even of having the success you had in Rome and Paris?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, it's certainly an adjustment.  The first two days you're like, Wait, I can't really slide that much.  So you have to take a few more steps.  I'm like, That's kind of unfortunate.  I kind of got used to it.
But the first few days are always so much fun.  It's such a different balance, a fast game.  I feel like coming from the clay you learn so much about the point and the development of the rally.
You get on grass, and obviously, I mean, on a fast grass court, you're not playing more than five‑ball rallies.  If you are, probably doing something wrong.
I enjoy it.  I really do.  You have to stay a little lower.  The bounce is much lower.  Return and serve are extremely important.

Q.  Any special message or compliment that you got after winning France?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I got many incredible messages.  Usually it's, Congratulations.  They're much more open actually than the ones I had won previously, which was really nice to hear.
But I think I'll keep it to myself on who those are from.

Q.  If you weren't to win the title this year, would you like to see Kim Clijsters win it in her final Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, it's tough to put myself out of the equation just like that with your words.  I'm sorry (laughter).
Look, I've always admired Kim.  I think she's one of the best professionals we've had on tour.  Certainly she's had a lot of injuries where she's been able to come back from and do so well.  She's been such a great example of coming back, even having a kid, devoting herself to the sport.
It's not an easy task to just getting back on the horse and performing as well as she has.  To see her succeed is always a nice feeling for me.

Q.  So what would it mean if you were to be successful here at Wimbledon?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I don't know if words can really describe the feeling of winning a Grand Slam.  I think everybody knows the meaning of this tournament for me, ever since I was a young girl, how special it was.  To be part of its history for the rest of my career and life means a lot.
I certainly hope I can achieve the success I had many years ago here.

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