Maria Sharapova Interview
March 15, 2011
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA - BNP PARIBAS OPEN
M. SHARAPOVA/D. Safina
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Is there any part of you that can understand or feel empathy with what Dinara was going through out there today? I mean, she's clearly suffering the effects of her injury and loss of confidence. It looked like at one point she was even starting to cry during one of the changeovers.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I didn't notice that. It actually seemed like this tournament she was starting to pick up her game and play a lot better. I think that's what she's been working towards. You know, she hasn't had, you know, the results that she's wanted the last two months and she's trying to find her form, and I think this was the tournament where I think she was starting to, you know, get more confidence.
I don't think she played that poorly throughout the match, actually.
Q. How about your form? It looks like you're starting to get up to a higher and higher level each round.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I thought that was going to be important today. You know, it was a little unfortunate I didn't win that first game, because I thought, you know, when you're Love-40 on her serve, you know, played a solid game, and I missed that one shot close to the line.
Yeah, but after that I felt like, you know, I stepped it up. You know, I put a lot of pressure on her from the first ball and felt like she was on the defense. That was really important.
Q. Did you expect the old Dinara who used to battle you, or were you not kind of sure who was going to come out?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You just go out there, and no matter who you're playing, you have to expect your opponent to play great tennis. Like I said, this was one of the first tournaments that she's starting to play a lot better and find her form.
That's dangerous, because, you know, she comes into a match, and, you know, confidence is a huge thing. You can come in and swing away.
Yeah, I just wanted to take care of business.
Q. When you're not playing a lot of matches, what is the toughest thing to replicate? Like what is it almost impossible to replicate in practice that you need to summon in a match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I talked about it a little bit in my other press conference. I think a lot of it is just the feelings that you go through during the match almost like you're on autopilot when you're down a breakpoint. You know, you have a similar feeling. You're not questioning yourself so much. You automatically know, you know, what you're going to do, where you're going to stay.
When you haven't played a lot of matches, you almost -- you're unsure, you know. You're not too -- - obviously not too confident because you don't know when, you know, if you've been practicing well, when is that going to transition over.
It's a different type of match. It's a different type of atmosphere. Yeah.
Q. Roger said that now that he's in a different phase of his career, he's not playing with the freedom he had as a younger player, that he has sort of more to lose now, that he sort of didn't know what he didn't know when he was young. Do you feel any of those elements in the big arc of your career?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I just always try to push myself, because deep down inside I always feel like I can be better, that I can achieve more. You know, I always feel like it hurt me being away from the game. You know, I wanted to build on what I what started in the beginning of 2008 where, you know, I was playing really unbelievable tennis and I felt like something was coming on and I was trying to push through it.
And, yeah, I think it's -- I think for everyone, you know, it's tough to -- I mean, to hear it from Roger after what he's accomplished already, it's almost laughable. I think everyone -- there are only a few players that can say that in his position, I think.
But, yeah, everyone is in different stages of their lives. Some become fathers or mothers and some are trying to come back from injuries. Some are, you know, retiring and then coming back.
So everyone feels differently out there. It all changes match for match. That's, you know, the beauty of the sport, really.
Q. You were talking the other day about how much Sasha loves basketball. How does your love for tennis compare to his love for basketball?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think he likes to practice more than I do. (Laughter.)
I think that's a fact. Um, no, I think love for the sport, it's tough to compare. We're both big competitors, and we had a very similar upbringings in terms of sport. I mean, the way he slept with his first pair of basketball shoes, I certainly never slept with mine. I slept with an a pair of high heels. (Laughter.)
Q. Is that true?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it's not true, but it's almost true.
Q. Did you ever sleep with a racquet?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no. It's funny. Actually, you come to my house and I don't think you'd even know that I play tennis, honestly.
Yeah, I mean, you don't see any tennis things around. Even my trophies are pretty, you know, pretty stored in a cabinet. Only if you sit in the dining room table, that's usually -- that nobody ever sits at. So unless you point them out, I don't think anyone really sees.
But, yeah, it's different. But as far as from a competitive point of view, we're both pretty big competitors.
Q. Why do you put all that stuff in your house aside that's related to tennis? You just need the separation from career or just...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I just don't like so much cluster. We get so many things would we travel, tennis souvenirs and books. I don't know. I think I got it from my mother. She's very organized and everything was always pretty clean, and there's just -- you come to my house, and you don't -- I mean, all the tennis equipment is stored in one closet somewhere in the basement, or in the garage you see my tennis bag.
Other than that...
Q. You don't have the...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You see my dad's four pairs of skis and his new bicycle. God, what a view that is at like 9:00 in the morning.
Q. And your Slam trophies are where? You don't have them on a mantle somewhere?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, there is like a dining room table and like a cabinet that's glass, so you can see it if you sit at the dining room table. But it's one of those places that is more like for view.
Yeah, it's a formal living room, dining room table that -- yea, I just, I don't know. I was never like a souvenir type of person. You know, when people come to the house, of course I show them my trophies. I mean, like I don't hide them. I don't have like pictures of me. You don't see like a picture of me with a Grand Slam trophy.
Q. No gigantic posters?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. The only thing I have is in my bedroom I have like the three racquets that I won the three Grand Slams with. They're like behind the closet so you can't even see it.
And my tennis dresses are lined up in my closet, each one that I've worn. I don't know what to make out of it, but it's like that with everything. It's like...
Q. The tennis season is sort of its own journey, has its own rhythm to it, and starts fresh with the Australian and hard court and clay and so forth. What's your favorite segment preWimbledon, preUS Open, now, American hard court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's a good question.
They are quite different, and I like the freshness coming into the Australian Open. I like that feeling of everyone has kind of been away and just training and having a holiday, and then you kind of see where everyone is and their form, how they're playing. You also get a feel of where you are.
And then, I mean, the summer is obviously my favorite going from the clay to the grass, even though actually for me it's a long trip because I stay in Europe most of the time. I don't go back home in between, so it's usually a little bit tough on, you know, on the travel.
But the great thing about it is you stay in a house over there in Wimbledon and you have that homey feel. It helps a lot, and you're able to have normal meals and have some sort of like normal life a little bit.
Q. Are you a bit haunted from what happened here last year? It was sort of a flukey sort of injury.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Here?
Q. Not really haunted...
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, that's a really -- not a good word.
Q. Anything haunting your house?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no.
Q. Coming back this year after kind of a crazy sort of thing happened last year, do you have little bit more trepidation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was just one of those things. Last year I felt really good coming in from Memphis. I thought I was playing really well like even the week before here, and then I started feeling something in my first round.
Then, yeah, I just got progressively worse in my second round. It was just one of those things that -- but I never lack a bone bruise in my body, so I'm never surprised when hear of one again. Yeah, it was disappointing, because bone bruises, you just don't do anything about it. You just have to rest and it heals on its own. It was one of those things, like, Here we go again. Can't practice. Let's do some more arm exercises. Yeah, I took up French for a while.
Q. How far did you get?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I thought I was doing very well until I came to France, and then I realized I was doing pretty poorly. No, I was already all right. I studied it when I was young so it was easier to pick up, but I wish I was fluent.
Q. The year you won here, you said, Whenever I wake up and I don't have any pains, I'm shocked.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, that's true.
Q. That was five years ago. So five years on, is it worse? How much worse? Or in some ways, the time you have been forced to take time off has been restorative in that respect?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it was just -- it's pretty -- I mean, it's pretty tough to wake up and not to feel like some part of your body is not hurting. When I say hurting, I mean in terms of like muscle soreness or a little tweak or this, or, I don't know, even a headache. I don't know.
You're just an athlete. I mean, I said my first round, you, you know, you haven't played for a while. You come in and you play, and it was just under three hours. I mean, you're going to feel something the next day. I don't care how good a shape you are in. I know you're going to feel some tight muscles.
I mean, recovery is just really big in our sport. You know, I've always -- I mean, I have pretty loose joints, so it's just really important to -- I'm fortunate that I have a good physical therapist, and, you know, a constant one that travels with me all year long and makes sure that my body is in tune. From warmup to recovery, it's important.
Q. To follow just real quickly, is that perhaps the one thing that you will look forward to not experiencing once you're done with tennis, is to be able to wake up and feel like a so-called normal human being? I mean, most of us wake up and don't have those aches and pains every day.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Really?
I wish my dad was like that. He complains a lot about aches and pains.
I think the one thing I look forward to -- I mean, as far as normalcy, I do consider my life pretty normal because I never really knew any other way. But I think one of the things I will enjoy is actually being sick and being able to go to the pharmacy and being able to get any medicine on the counter and not have to send it in to the WTA physician and get an approval on it. That's one thing that I'll -- even if it's a Vitamin C.
Q. That's crazy.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That's one thing I think I will enjoy, especially when you're in a foreign country.
Q. So you were on antibiotics, I assume, in Moscow, and you had to get approval for that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I was on three.
Q. But you had to get approval for all of them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, yeah, I did.
Q. And you had to wait? How long did it take?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, it's pretty fast. That's the good thing. It's pretty fast. Yeah, but it's -- well, I got it in Paris because I was starting to feel it in Moscow. I didn't want to take antibiotics. Obviously that's not the best thing.
Then I got to Paris, and the tournament doctor came over to the hotel and they were looking at -- yeah, they were online in my room for 30 minutes like looking at their book and then looking online to make sure that the -- even, I mean, the worst is the cough medicine, because I think most of the cough medicines have some sort of thing in it.
So that you have to be very careful with. Then I came home and I had to get another one because I had an ear infection, so it was great. It was just wonderful. But now it's all better.
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