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May 26, 2014

Maria Sharapova


6‑1, 6‑2

THE MODERATOR:  Questions in English.

Q.  Everything went according to plan or minor glitches?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, it's always nice to get out there on a day like this.  It's good to play first match, as you know.  Hopefully you'll be able to finish the match today with the weather conditions being as they are.  It's always nice to get through.

Q.  I would like to hear your feelings about the match.  It was like pretty quick, but I would like to know how you felt on court and everything, please.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, first matches at Grand Slams are always tough, no matter how prepared you are, no matter how many matches you've played.
There is always a bit more tension in that type of Grand Slam atmosphere.  It's certainly more special, especially when you walk out on court.  Considering all that, I thought I played a solid match, did the things I had to do.  Yeah, it's only the beginning right now.

Q.  You had many free points on your serve today.  I think after your first surgery you had to change your motion on the serve.  Did you change anything after this injury last year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  A few things.  You know, once Sven got on board we worked on a few things just to modify, nothing drastic, but a little thing here and there.

Q.  Some of men's players have been talking about the debate that's happening, playing best of three or best of five at Slams.  They said best of five is what makes it special at Grand Slams, it's different.  Obviously women play best of three everywhere.  What is it that makes it special here?  It's probably an obvious answer.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Just being in this type of atmosphere, I think we all feel a difference once we step into the Grand Slam grounds.  And to play in the stadiums of the Grand Slams there is something so special about them to know how many former champions have walked through that door to get on that court.
It's just something different in the air no matter if you're playing one set or ten sets.  It's a different story.

Q.  Each time you are in Paris, you enjoy eating macarons.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Unfortunately (smiling).

Q.  When you win, how many of them do you allow yourself to eat?  And when you lose do you get to eat more as a consolation prize or is it the other way, do you punish yourself and have a bit less?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I will probably have to answer that question once the tournament is over (laughter).  It depends how fresh they are.
I don't know.  I usually allow myself a couple here and there, but on tougher occasions I allow myself more than usual.  Yeah.

Q.  Looking for an eventual quarterfinals match against Serena, have you given any thoughts about ‑‑I know your next match is your only concern, but...
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Then why do you ask the question?

Q.  Because it will be a really blockbuster match.  Well, have you given any thoughts about that match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It's tough to think about that match down the line where you have to compete in three matches before that, you know, three more.
Obviously it's a match that many people always look forward to when we play against each other.
But in many ways, it doesn't matter if it's fourth round or the quarterfinal, semis, final.  At a certain point, I mean, there is only one champion at a tournament.  So it's not really about when you face somebody.  It's about who comes through.  Right now it's not our concern, because the next match I'm playing against Pironkova.

Q.  You have been around long enough through ups and downs and injuries.  So when you see someone like Venus still out there competing, considering her condition, is that something that you look to for inspiration or bewilderment?  She's certainly earned the right to retire.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, of course, it's very inspirational, and to have the desire and the fight to get up in the morning to want to compete and do this and continue doing it, knowing how tough it is and to keep that level over and over again.
But on the other hand, she's been so successful, you know, and that feeling of winning the big titles is so special.  And I'm sure she's not just here to walk around the grounds.  I'm sure she wants that feeling back, because there is really nothing like it.
But, yeah, it's definitely inspirational.

Q.  A few weeks ago tennis came together to mourn the passing of Bally due to liver cancer.  Some said that it may have been associated that she was born near Chernobyl.  Could you talk about the after‑effects of the incident at Chernobyl?  Is there still impact in terms of ill health in terms of cancer and so forth?  Could you reflect on that, please.
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It's actually the first time I heard that that could be the case.  But in regards to are people still being affected about it?  Yes, absolutely.  That's, you know, one of my biggest goals many years ago when I started working with United Nations is raising awareness that something that happens so many years ago is still affecting so many lives today.
I hope that wasn't the case with her.  But, yes, it's a reality, unfortunately.

Q.  How, if at all, does it feel different for when you come to a Grand Slam tournament when you had won the year before, coming back as a defending champion?  Is there any different feeling you have in a positive or a negative way coming back?  And can you remember specifically back to the first time you went back to Wimbledon, having won it the year before?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, of course.  Those memories are going to be with you forever.  But you spend 11 months away from that moment and away from the grounds, and once you, you know, once you enter that, you always think of the moments whether it's before the match or after the match or the celebrations that you had, and you always visualize that and you go through that in your mind, you always think about it.
Because as the year goes on, of course, you're able to reflect on what you did, but once you're actually there, it's a bit more meaningful.  Yeah.

Q.  Going back a couple of months, what was it like being one of the final torch bearers at the opening ceremonies?  What do you think the image of Sochi was after the Olympics?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, personally, it's one of the biggest honors I received in ‑‑I wouldn't say career, but in what I have done.  I never expected to be part of the opening ceremonies.  You know, I was one of the ambassadors that helped bring the Olympics there, but I, at that point, it was a very unrealistic goal.
I came to the United States when I was almost seven years old, and I'd have to spell the word Sochi to everybody.  I'd have to tell them where it was, nobody knew where it was on a map.
To think when I had arrived there and we were flying over the stadiums and to see that, you know, to see the attention from all the world in this specific place was so special to me, because all my childhood memories were formed there.
I actually had no idea what I was going to be doing at the ceremony until the rehearsals, and when they took me down to the stadium and opened up the ramp and they gave me the torch and I had to run up through the fumes, I thought I was dreaming, you know.  It was one of those just unique, unique moments.

Q.  Tennis is played on obviously several different surfaces.  How would you rank the surfaces you're best on?  What are your best surfaces?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  That's a loaded question.
I think I don't like to categorize each surface, because they are all so different and I feel like I have had to make so many transitions through my career.
When I had started playing on grass, I never practiced on it, never played junior tournaments on it and I came there as a 15‑year‑old and I loved it from the very beginning.
The clay was very difficult for me, because I had never ‑‑never had mental confidence that I was able to play a three‑hour match and have the opportunity to play in semifinals or finals, because I wouldn't say weak or physically weak, but I didn't recover that well, and I wasn't strong enough.
It took me years to build that confidence in my body and, you know, my legs getting stronger and recovering on the court to make it a surface that I actually loved playing on, even if the conditions are like this.

Q.  You have had a lot of incredible comebacks and triumphs, but it is your work on clay, does that give you some of the most pride you have in your career?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think it was one of the like biggest individual goals I had, because I realized that I needed to do something about it, and I think I just took it upon myself.
There wasn't a specific moment, but it was really a combination of, you know, what these moments in the gym or these moments on the court, you know, it's almost like getting that fear away from, you know, Okay, you can slide and you can get back in the court.  You don't need to just hang around by the post on the side, it's okay to get back on the court and play your game again.
So I think that learning process, I took that really upon myself.

Q.  You looked pretty good today, obviously.  What were you happy with about your game and what, if anything, was something you were unhappy about?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think going into a first‑round match at a Grand Slam, you want to be solid, you want to do the things you need to do.  It's never easy, no matter how good you're feeling before or bad you're feeling.  It's just a different story once you get on the court.
I thought I did what I had to do very well.  I feel there was still things I could have improved and do better for the next match.

Q.  This is apart from tennis you are also a businesswoman.  Why did you decide to invest your money in something like sweets, Sugarpova and so on.  It's difficult to find someplace to invest your money or it's a good idea to make a sweet?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I thought it might be a stupid idea in the beginning, but it's turned out to be one of the smartest things I've done (laughter).
Yeah, it started off as a creative something that I thought I would eventually, down the line when I'm finished with my career, would be able to build and grow, but I wanted to start building during my career.
You know, it started off as a little mom‑and‑pop shop, and now we actually have full‑time employees in the company.  It's become a pretty big business in over 30 countries around the world.
It's incredible to see the growth of something that started so small.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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