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July 31, 2012

Maria Sharapova


7‑6, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  What do you make of the ambience here for the Olympics, how it's different?  Do you like it or not like it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, of course, I love it.  Obviously, you felt it so much today, playing against someone that's from Great Britain.  You feel the support that, you know, the home country's providing to the athletes.  What a transition it has been from the last few weeks of Wimbledon to here, a nice one, a completely different atmosphere, which I think all of us are really enjoying.

Q.  Just being able to wear colors on the court here, is that nice?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, obviously you have the tradition of Wimbledon where everyone wears white, so you know what to expect.  This is completely different.  Even in the locker room, everyone is supporting their country, wearing the warmups in all the different colors.
Certainly from the first day we arrived here, you see the changes.  I mean, the streets are like one way all of a sudden, there's barricades, more security.  You come from one of the biggest tournaments, Wimbledon.  You're like, Okay, wow, this is different.
But, yeah, it's much more of a team atmosphere as well.  The girls are getting together in the evenings, having dinner together, which has been nice.  Yeah, just a different feel.

Q.  You've played Laura before.  Are you able to compare the match you had with her today with the one you had then?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I think she has a lot of potential, there's no doubt.  I think consistency's the biggest key obviously.  When you come out on a big stage, you have the whole crowd behind you, you're playing against a player who you have nothing to lose, you just need to go out and perform your best.
But I think it's also a matter of, you know, maybe going out and playing on Court18 and also performing at the same type of level week in, week out.
I think she certainly improved from the last time I played her.  I also practiced with her before this event.  So, yeah, you certainly see the little improvements she's made.  I'm sure she has a bright future ahead of her.

Q.  Looking ahead for a second.  With this tournament going into August, when the Open comes around, are players going to be running on fumes?  Will it be business as usual?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think it's just something that all of us just really knew going into this year, into this season, of how busy and how hectic everything is going to be.  You know, you're finishing one event.  Part of your mind is already next to the other.
I think the most important thing personally for me is to make sure I'm healthy.  I try to build my schedule around the big ones, obviously.  You know, not try to play too much, but enough to be ready for the ones that I feel like I need to step up at.
I'm happy with my schedule so far this year.  Maybe I'll need to tweak a few things going further depending on how I feel.  I had a really long trip.  I was on the road for two and a half months starting before Stuttgart in Germany going to Wimbledon.  That's a pretty long stretch.  There's not much time to rest because obviously you have such a tough schedule ahead with the Olympics and just a few tournaments before the US Open.
Just a matter of staying healthy and trying to keep that motivation.  When you're in this atmosphere, how can you not have the motivation, I guess?

Q.  How important was it being the flag bearer for Russia in the opening ceremony?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It was a huge honor for me.  Obviously, I grew up with the Olympics being such a huge part of the Russian culture.  At the time when tennis wasn't a very big sport, it was more about I think the winter sports more than anything, when we were just really dominant.
I always loved the parades.  I always watched them.  I dreamed of being part of them.  I always loved the hats that they wore.
Yeah, I envisioned myself one day being part of that.  Never knew I would be actually carrying the flag, being the first female to do so in our history, it's pretty special.  I think it's a moment I'll cherish for the rest of my life.

Q.  Can you talk a bit about your next match and what you'll be doing to prepare for that.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, an extremely difficult opponent.  I lost to her just a few weeks ago here at Wimbledon.  She played at a really high level.  I hope I'll change a few things around in order to change the result.

Q.  Did you sense today this was a different crowd from the normal Wimbledon atmosphere?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Of course, yeah, definitely.  You feel the energy.  I feel like the Wimbledon crowd is a little more polite.  I don't know if 'polite,' but they're a little more calmer.
A lot more flags here.  Obviously, it's the Olympics.  It's absolutely normal.  I love the atmosphere.  Obviously I was playing someone from Great Britain and most of the people were cheering for her.  Still in the back of my mind, I hear my Russian cheers and my name being yelled in Russian, even though they were less than the Great British ones today.

Q.  During Wimbledon, I'm assuming you would have routines that you follow, living in this village.  Coming here now for the Olympics, do you follow the same routines, carry them over from Wimbledon, or is it quite different?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Uhm, as far as the living, I mean, other things, it's pretty much been the same.  You obviously want to do what you feel has helped you in your past or what you've done.  Obviously, you feel like you've had good results with it.  In a way, it's like, why change things?
But I do feel like it's a little bit of a different feel.  It's much more team, even though it isn't.  It's still an individual sport.  I mean, all of us, the Russian team, get together at the official Russian house, and we have dinners together.  We have a few cooks that have come from Ukraine, which has been the best part.  I'm the first one in line for the food all the time (smiling).  I get it when it's warm.  That's been great.
There are a lot of benefits.  Can we do this at every Wimbledon?  I'll pay for them, I mean, anything.

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