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December 29, 2013

Maria Sharapova


THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Maria.

Q.  You're going to be back on court pretty soon.  Talk about the progress of your shoulder and how all that's going, what you're looking forward to.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† Yeah, it's been really good.¬† I've had a really healthy off‑season, something quite unusual, because in the last few years I always had a little injury here and there.
So that was nice, because I gave myself time to recover and get better.  I started quite early, so I made it into two parts of it.  I started slow, took a little bit of a break, and then geared up again with a little bit more intensity.
Here we are.

Q.  100%, or still not sure if you can play a match yet?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No, I'm feeling really good.  I think as a team we structured it really good.  I knew from the moment I withdraw from the Open that I was going to give myself the right amount of time that I needed.  Whether that was a week, a month, a few months, I didn't know.  Nobody really knew.
I've played with an injured shoulder for a while, so it was really important for me to take that time.

Q.  So when you went to Colombia, at that point was it pretty strong?

Q.  You could hit the serve, the forehand, and not worry about it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Before the exhibition I played maybe one or two practice matches just to make sure I was ready to go out.  Colombia was a little bit challenging with the altitude.  Couldn't make much of a match out of it unfortunately.
But it was a unique opportunity for me just to be out there again.  It's been a few months, so it was nice.

Q.  The surface compared to Melbourne, Roger was saying with the humidity it's so much faster.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It is faster, yeah.  I felt it's a bit faster from the first day.  I don't know if that will be the same in Melbourne, but I think it's a bit faster than last year.

Q.  That would suit you fine?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I guess we'll see.  I would hope so.

Q.  You've pretty much done it all.  Had a wonderful career.  You've come back from injury.  Do you ever get to the point where your hunger is sated a bit, or do you have to keep your motivation levels up?  Does it come naturally?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† Certainly when you're doing it for so many years of your life there are moments where you felt like need a pick‑me‑up.¬† I didn't play for a few months, and that was the reason for me to get back out there.
I know when I'm healthy how I can play and what I'm capable of doing.  I needed to get healthy.  So that was the motivation on its own.

Q.  You have a brand new team around you.  Can you explain why?  Do you feel like you need a big change?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† Yeah, I have a few new team members in the team.¬† Obviously new coach, Sven.¬† From the first time we met I really liked what he had to say.¬† He came in as a very experienced person, player.¬† He started from the very beginning of the game, and one of the things I've always liked in a coach is when he coached against me ‑ and he's been there for many years coaching against me ‑ and I like when someone comes in and is honest and truthful and says it like it is.
He's that.  He puts it all out on the table.  He's a team player.  He works with everyone on my team, something I was missing for a little bit of time.
I have a new physio this year, Jerome, who has been great who has also had a lot of experience with the French Federation, Amélie Mauresmo.
Other than that, I think it's the same.

Q.  You talk about keeping your motivation, but talk about the changes.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, in tennis time goes really fast.  Seems like I was sitting at this table just a year ago.  Different circumstances, thankfully.  But really have to make the right decisions.  You have to realize that the decisions you make, you have to make them selfishly in this business to be better, to know what's right for you, because time goes really fast.
You don't want to lose your opportunities.¬† I'm happy with the structure I have now.¬† I've spent a good few months with everyone on the team.¬† Obviously in the beginning it's going to be a challenge because I haven't played many matches.¬† I want to bring the work I've done in the off‑season, try to bring that onto the court as soon as I can.
Will that happen this week?¬† I don't know.¬† Will that happen next week?¬† I know that if I have the effort I had in the off‑season I'll be at a level I want to be.¬† Of course, you have higher expectations because you know what you're capable of what you've achieved newer career.¬† You've got to try to minimize that just because of the fact that you haven't been out there for a long time.

Q.  You're a Grand Slam champion.  You know how to play tennis.  When you make a change like this, is it fine tuning?  Remodeling?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:¬† It is, yeah.¬† It's just a few things.¬† Having a lot of experience, you kind of know‑‑ you know, what you needed as maybe a 17 or 18 year old is different to what you need as a 26 year old.
With time you realize what's the best direction for you in everything:  In coaching, in life, in perspective, and things.  I think we all grow in different areas and learn a lot about ourselves and our games.
I certainly know what I feel I need at this point in my career.  I think that the new team can really help me with that.

Q.  Do you need someone more laid back like Sven and Hogstedt, or do you think it could have worked with Jimmy had it not been for the shoulder injury in that frustrating part of the summer?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Ultimately it's not always someone that's going to come in and change something drastically.  I always thought a different person can come in and give you similar words to what the previous person says, but for some reason it just clicks differently in your mind and you go out and execute differently than before.
You have to realize that when that stalls, you kind of have to get that going again, get the engine going if you just stop and feel like you're at a standstill.
I got everything I could out of Thomas.  He came in at the very right time in my career.  He got me going and got me motivated.
But I'm excited at the things that Sven can bring to the table as well.

Q.  Will you tweak your schedule?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I've never really had a full schedule in my career.  I think I've been smart about the tournaments I've chosen to play because of my body, and the shoulder specifically.
I don't think it'll be any different than previous years.  Hopefully it will be because I'll play here.  That's the biggest difference.  (Laughter.)

Q.  You talked about this a little bit with Chris Clarey a few weeks ago.  You and Grigor are traveling together to tournaments.  Is it more comfortable being with a tennis person?  Do you talk about tennis or do your things and leave it on the court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Of course we share a lot of the same things just because we have an elephant in the room that's called tennis.
But there are so many other things to life that are besides tennis, and there are a lot more things to discuss than forehands and backhands and strings and racquets, which we share similar ideas and things of.
Yeah, that's been really nice.

Q.  Are you in a mentor role?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  A mentor role?

Q.  I mean on court.

Q.  For him.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  He's not going to like that question.

Q.  It's the answer that's important.  You've been on the tour a lot longer.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Maybe I've been on the tour for longer, but he's played this sport for a very long time, since he was a little kid.  He knows what to do probably better than I do.

Q.  Speaking of little kids, coming from Russia and your dad not having much, your memories of those days drive you along throughout your career?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think part of how you grow up and the experiences you had in your childhood certainly develop maybe your mentality and the way you think and the way you observe life and the position where you are today.
I'll always know where I came from and where I started and how I came to this position.  It's a very fortunate story.  Maybe some people that do the same things don't get the same results.
It's always tough to see, and I consider myself very lucky that I am in this position today.  That's why I don't take anything for granted, especially since I had shoulder surgery.
I appreciate everything that I get.  Sometimes it's extremely difficult to look at it that way, but you have to in order to keep going.

Q.  Any issues for the players going into 2014?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I haven't spoken to them about that.  (Laughter.)

Q.  Just about the tour as a whole, any issues?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I've been out of it for a while, so I guess I'll get the scoop here maybe.  It's my first real press conference in a really long time, so...

Q.  Are you planning to did any sightseeing in Brisbane?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, last year I didn't play and I went and saw the koalas.  This year I hopefully will play and I won't see the koalas.  That's my goal.

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