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August 25, 2012

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Can you talk about the whole Olympic experience and what Olympic stadium, as a flag bearer, what it was like?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† It was a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity for me.¬† You know, I grew up watching so much of the Olympics on television and just dreaming to one day ‑‑ I had already started playing tennis.¬† Tennis wasn't so big in Russia back then, but I had hoped that one day I'd be participating in it.
I mean, I never dreamed that I would be carrying the flag for my country, so that was, you know, just a very pleasant surprise that to get that honor.  I was the first female.  It meant a lot.  Been supporting my country for many years.  It was just a really proud moment, and it was a really hectic week.
We played so much tennis.  So I think now it's actually nice to look back, because every day they would ask how the experience is.  I think we were just so focused on what we wanted to do and what we wanted to achieve and being a part of the whole Olympic hoopla.  It's been nice to step back and think how amazing it was.

Q.¬† You haven't played a match since the Olympics.¬† How are you feeling health‑wise now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I feel really good.  You know, I went into Montreal and, you know, was supposed to play but I got a stomach bug and just decided to give it a rest.
I think it was a sign my body just needed to slow down.  It was a lot of travel, a lot of playing.  Had a hectic summer.  So, you know, decided to shut it down until here, because we still have a lot to play towards the end of the year.
But it's been good.  I have been training for a few weeks now.  I got here a little early.  Yeah.

Q.  Are you at the point where you don't feel like you need a lot of matches going into big tournaments?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, but I also feel like I know with experience sometimes, I mean, obviously it's an individual choice and it depends on what has helped you before.
I know that if I feel healthy and I have enough practice, I'm okay.  I don't feel like I need to play three tournaments in a row in order to be ready for the US Open.
Like I said, I played a lot of tennis this year.  Sometimes it's more important for the body to feel fresh, and the mind as well.  Obviously you never know if that's going to pay off or not, but you learn from experience.
That's helped me before, and it's trying to make the right choices in certain moments of the year.

Q.  Your fiancée, is he playing overseas?

Q.  Does he want to get back into the NBA?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, he's back in Turkey for another year.

Q.  He's not coming back to the NBA?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Not this year.  He's already back there training.

Q.  He was here with the New Jersey Nets?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, he did well when he was here.  I did too.  I was close to the city most of the time.  Took the ferry over, so that was nice.

Q.  When you think about schedule management, is this something you learned from your own experience or have you learned from players like Federer and how they've managed their careers and their durability?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No, I think it's a personal feeling.  I mean, maybe in the beginning of your career it's something that you can maybe take from other players, but I have learned a lot over the years of, I mean, what's worked and not worked.
It's also about seeing the results also what you feel.  It's not just saying, Oh, I need a break or I need a tournament.  It's really about looking back and seeing how you felt going into an event, how you did, how your preparation was.  I mean, you learn a lot by being on the tour for many years.

Q.  How did you come up with the name Sugapova, and can you tell us a little bit about the company?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I can't take credit for coming up with the name.  I was having a meeting with my manager who had met with Jeff Rubin, who is a pretty influential in the candy business, and they had started talking about it.
I mean, originally it was something that I was going to be a part of.  Then I thought it's not something I wanted to be a part of.  I really wanted to own this.
I mean, I guess I can say it started because I have been a part of so many little things in my career, been a part of collaborations and collections.  It came to a point where I really wanted to invest my own money into something, make all the final decisions.
Even though I was always‑‑ you know, I was influential in the things I did.¬† You know, I never just put my name on something.¬† But at the end of the day, I wanted to be 100% owned by me.¬† That's how the name came about.
Then I thought it was really funny and young and full of energy.  And then I put candy together, and God knows how much candy I eat and how much food I eat.
Yeah, it was just something that I wanted to start from scratch.  It took two years since the idea came out.  18 months; feels like two years.

Q.  Is that a logo necklace you're wearing?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It is actually the ad agency gave that to me as a present.  They're the ones that came out with the lips and all the different logos.

Q.  Kim Clijsters was in here a moment ago.  Can you tell us what she meant to the tour?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, well, I mean, what's there to say about Kim?  There's so many great things besides the fact she's been an incredible tennis player and champion and someone that went away from the sport to commit herself to being a mother and a good wife and then coming back and being a professional and winning a few more Grand Slams.
You know, she was always so focused and determined, one of the best athletes I think the game saw in women's tennis.  The way she moved around the court.  Also just a really great person, very humble.
At the end of the day, just a down‑to‑earth person that, you know, I think reflected on life in a very good way.¬† Always wanted to be a good mother and family was important to her and had really good values, so I really respect that in her.

Q.¬† Is she one of the most all‑around popular players on the tour?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Definitely.  Absolutely.

Q.  How does the quest to being world No. 1 rank for you as compared to winning titles?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† It's a different feeling, because, you know, the ranking system comes out every week on every Monday, whereas winning ‑‑you mean Grand Slams and No. 1?¬† Winning a Grand Slams, it's a moment.¬† You get a match point.¬† You know, it's that, you actually have to not ‑‑of course you have to work for both, but in the Grand Slam you have to work every single point to get to the last point and you get to celebrate that moment of victory; whereas No. 1, of course, it's that number that everyone, you know, from the junior days to when you're working up, that's the number you really want to get to.¬† You want to stay there.¬† It's probably the toughest thing.
So it's a very different feeling, but both are incredible achievements.

Q.  Is everything this year now gravy because you won Roland Garros?  You come in here and say, didn't win the Olympics, didn't win Wimbledon, clean the slate and now I have the US Open and I have huge goals here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I have had an incredible year so far.  Obviously winning the French was very meaningful to me.  It was just one that I really wanted to get and to be part of my career whenever I ended.
And, yeah, being there first time as an Olympian, going out there and getting silver, that was a great moment.  Of course this is the last big one.  This is kind of where you have to put all your energy.  Even though it's not the last tournament of the year, you feel like this is where you can put all the work and effort into this one big event.
I mean, it's very meaningful.  It's big.  It's New York City.  There's no reason why I shouldn't perform my best here.

Q.  What kind of products does Sugarpova make?  Do you compete with Nestle's?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No, it's mostly gummy bears and gumballs, which are sold out now.  My friend wanted to put a consumer complaint.  I was like, You can't do that.  That's obnoxious.  You're my friend.  (Smiling.)
And one licorice.  It's only 12 flavors to begin with.  Hopefully we'll expand.  I mean, I do hope it goes into chocolate and caramels and all that, but for my body I really hope not.  (Laughter.)
Q.Are you looking to be in every 7/11 in America?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Not yet.  I'm very selective in where I want to see this.  Our first meeting with Henri Bendel's, we came in, we pitched it, and the owner was so into it and was just so passionate.  He said, We're doing this before the US Open.  We're carrying it.
When they put their first order in I almost fell off my bed.  When you work on something you treat as your own little baby, and when someone comes in like Henry Bendels and just believes in it and selling it in sugar stores around the world, in 60 stores.
It's not international yet.  Next year it will be.  It's all a process, but it's been successful from the start so far.  It's only been out a week.  We'll see.  We'll see where it goes.

Q.  Moving off candy for a second, which major is the toughest to win?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Which major in general?  Well, they're so different.  You can't compare them.  I think for everyone it's different.  Depends what they like to play on and what surface suits them.

Q.  In terms of atmosphere and distractions.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† Well, as a junior, when I came to NewYork I always thought this would be the toughest to win.¬† I mean, its energy is amazing, but it's almost ‑‑in the beginning it's certainly overwhelming.
But my experience has helped me a lot, because from feeling like I was very small in a very huge city with so much energy, I really embraced it over the years.¬† I came into NewYork and I absolutely love it with all its craziness and the fans and the late‑night matches.¬† You get used to it.
Everyone is different.  French Open was always the toughest one for me to win.  I mean, physically it was always challenging, but I never gave up with that one.

Q.  Could you see retiring at 29 like Kim is?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Why not?  (Smiling.)
I mean, I'm not going to put a number on it, but four years from now?  I mean, I do want to be a mother someday, too.

Q.  When you experience a loss, what is the recovery process like for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  As a 25 year old?  Maybe a little easier than a 29 year old.  You mean in terms of match recovery?

Q.  Just emotional recovery.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, emotional recovery.  I guess when you're young, every year in your career is sort of different, because in a way sitting here as a 25 year old, I mean, I can say that my experience is priceless.  The good, bad, the injuries, the losses, the wins, everything you can look back on and feel like you've experienced certain things.
It helps.  It guides you in a way.  When you're young, everything is new, every experience, every loss.  Even when you lose matches it's tough to say, Well, that's bad for me, because I can't tell you how many matches I lost where I felt like I learned so much more than when I won.
It's very different.  Tough to compare.

Q.  How much of Serena playing so great on the grass, does she come in here as the favorite virtually unbeatable or back on hard courts does it change things?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: ¬†Actually, she gained a tremendous amount of confidence at Wimbledon.¬† You know, she had a tough few three‑set matches, I believe.¬† She got through those.
When she got to the Olympics ‑ I mean, with every match you saw some of her matches ‑ she just improved.¬† I think she took that confidence and she played just really great physical tennis; served extremely well.¬† Who knows?
Obviously of course she's the favorite because she won those two big events back to back.  But everybody is still in the draw here.  It starts from the first round on, and that's why everybody is here.

Q.  When Kim was in here a little while ago, she said in her mind Serena is the greatest player ever.  What are your thoughts on that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† Well, she's certainly proven that.¬† I mean, I didn't get to be a part of the generation with Steffi and Monica, so it's tough.¬† I mean, I played Monica a couple of times, but, I mean, I wish ‑‑ part of me wishes I would have competed against Steffi.
It's really tough to say.  I mean, it's a different generation.  I mean, she's such a great athlete out on the court.  I mean, she's won how many Grand Slams already?  An amazing accomplishment, singles and doubles.
You know, still has the motivation to do so.  But I think it's really difficult to compare all these different players, because everyone has a different style of games and as well have achieved incredible amounts of achievements.  It's tough to say.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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