Maria Sharapova Presser: Winning The French, It’s The Most Unique Moment I’ve Experienced In My Career
Congrats to Maria Sharapova for making history on Saturday. Sharapova won her first French Open title over Sara Errani 63, 62 giving the Russian the career Grand Slam.
Sharapova becomes the sixth woman in the Open Era to complete the career Grand Slam, after Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams. She is also the 10th all-time, with Maureen Connolly, Shirley Fry and Billie Jean King achieving the feat before the Open Era. (Novak Djokovic will bid for his own career Slam tomorrow against Rafael Nadal).
Sharapova also returns to the No. 1 position when the new WTA ranking are released this weekend. The 25-year-old now has 27 career titles, three this year all on clay for the “Cow on Ice”. She also finishes her clay campaign 16-0 on the red dirt.
Errani didn’t leave town empty handed. The Italian won the women’s doubles title Friday with Roberta Vinci.
“I just want to say congratulations to Maria for the tournament and today,” Errani said. “I don’t feel like Top 10, but I will be Top 10, and it’s incredible for me. I really can’t believe it. I’m so happy for everything right now.”
Here’s Maria’s presser following the big win:
Q. You’ve dominated this match as you have dominated the whole tournament. How were you feeling today? How were you feeling just after the match point?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it’s surreal. It’s the most unique moment I’ve experienced in my career. I never thought I would have that. I thought that when I won Wimbledon at 17, I thought that would be the most treasured moment of my career.
But when I fell down on my knees today I realized that this was extremely special, and even more so. Yeah.
Q. Achieving the Grand Slam, big four, and when you think that even people like Nastase, Sampras, Rosewall, so many big names even in men’s tennis couldn’t achieve. When you look back to the start of your career and today, maybe one of your happiest days, how do you envision the trip between the beginning of your career and today, the Grand Slam?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it’s a long journey. It started from a very young age. It’s not over yet, you know. I’m not sitting here and saying I’m done, because I’m far from it.
I have a lot more in me to achieve. I believe in my game. I think that’s one of the reasons that that’s why I’m sitting here with my fourth one and winning Roland Garros, is because I always believed I could be better, I could be a better player, whether it was on clay, whether it was on grass, whether it was on cement, anything, I always strive to be better.
And one percent here, a few here, this is what I’ve always wanted to achieve. No matter how tough it was, no matter how many people didn’t believe in me, didn’t think that I could get to this point, I didn’t care and I didn’t listen.
I always listened to my own voice, and it always told me that for some reason I’m meant to be better. I’m meant to succeed again.
And I did.
Q. What did you prove to yourself today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know. I proved that no matter how many punches I took in my career, I’ve always gotten back up. I never made excuses for me, not to myself, not to people. I always relied on my own talent, on the help of my team.
At the end of the day, that’s really what gets me through and gets me up. I have a tremendous amount of belief and pride in what I do. I love my work. I’ve always said this: I love playing tennis.
I had so many outs in my career. I could have said, I don’t need this. I have money; I have fame; I have victories; I have Grand Slams. But when your love for something is bigger than all those things, you continue to keep getting up in the morning when it’s freezing outside, when you know that it can be the most difficult day, when nothing is working, when you feel like the belief sometimes isn’t there from the outside world, and you seem so small.
But you can achieve great things when you don’t listen to all those things.
Q. Talking about the match, Sara did some very good dropshots. Your athletic skills, where did you get them? Because you are moving really well in clay.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Let me take a sip of water. (Smiling.)
I’ve said this. I’ve really improved physically. I’ve moved a lot better, you know, from the start of my first tournament in Germany. I just felt more comfortable. Not just this year, but starting maybe last year, maybe the year before, I started moving a lot better. I started believing that I could, you know, play longer rallies; I could recovery better.
I mentioned this before. It’s something, you know, that I’ve stuck to.
Q. At the beginning of your career you didn’t seem so comfortable on clay.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhhuh.
Q. Is there a key moment when you found, I believe in myself, I can win, or is it you improve a little bit during all your career?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I felt like I’ve improved little by little. There wasn’t a certain moment in my career where I thought, Oh, wow, now I can do this.
You know, I had really difficult matches in previous years at Roland Garros, but I feel like maybe the match I ended up losing was against Justine, you know, I was I took her to the third set and I had many opportunities in that third set, and she, at the time, was the best claycourt player.
During that match I felt like, you know, I retrieved many balls back, I made her play, I felt like I was really in the game, and I didn’t feel like she was that much better than me at that time during that match despite all her success on clay. And I didn’t have much.
So, yeah, maybe that was a moment where I felt like, you know, I would have a chance one day.
Q. Your French was really decent.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, please. Please. Let’s only give compliments where compliments are due. That’s not an area where you can compliment me on.
Q. Are you going to be studying now in order to come back next year and be fluent? Maybe was that a start of a love affair? How are you going to experience Paris now maybe tonight by celebrating, going shopping, or what?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s fun. Actually when I first hurt my shoulder and I knew that I wouldn’t probably be playing for about two or three months, for some reason the first thing I did was I found a French school close to my house, and I did private lessons every single day for three months.
But after that I had to start traveling to Phoenix to see a shoulder specialist there. I was going from Monday to Friday, so I pretty much stopped, which was unfortunate.
I don’t know why, but everyone thought I was completely crazy because there were so many other things I could have done.
But it was really the first thing on my mind when I heard about my injury was that I was going to learn a language. I chose French. I didn’t achieve much in the language department, but, you know…
Q. It’s more than obvious that you won this tournament, but what was your reaction when your name was announced as a runnerup at the ceremony?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was funny. I actually like saw her reaction better when she lifted her hands. It’s nice to see when, you know, when a finalist is in good spirits and, you know, the way she talked and, you know, the speech. It’s nice to hear words that are downtoearth, that are real, you know, real people. I think real souls are just it’s nice to hear, nice to see.
Q. I’m wondering are you going to watch the match tomorrow or are you going to watch maybe with Sasha and whom you’re going to cheer?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Which match are we talking about? His match or?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I don’t know, no. Because he’s playing tomorrow. I didn’t know if you were…
I might be on a plane tomorrow somewhere. I don’t know where yet.
I heard the weather is not supposed to be too good tomorrow, I’m not sure, but I will tell you that I’m not going to be planning my schedule around the final.
Q. Who are you going to cheer…
MARIA SHARAPOVA: For who am I going to cheer?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I don’t know. It’s the last thing I’m really thinking about right now.
Q. Nadal or Novak?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I don’t know. I would love to see Novak win because it’s the one he hasn’t won yet, but I mean, I have seen Nadal play here and it’s been pretty incredible.
So, yeah, it’s going to be a pretty nice match.
Q. What are your plans now? You must be excited to get on the grass given the form that you’re in?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I just spoke to my mom and she said Well, first, I’m actually debating with my coach whether I should have three or four days off. I’m going for four, he’s going for three, which is very typical. (Smiling.)
I called my mom. We talked for a little bit, and she said, You know, you have those four days off. I said, No, mom, maybe only three. She said, Okay, whatever it is, you enjoy for three or four days, and then it’s back to work.
Yeah, this is my philosophy in my family. Then I called my dad and he’s on the bike and he’s like, Oh, great job. He’s like, Talk to you later. I’m like… (Smiling.)
Wonderful, wonderful family support. Like the wind is the back, you know, and he’s like no, he was excited. He’s like, Yeah. Okay, I’m on the bicycle I’ll call you later. (Laughter.)
Oh, my family…
So, yeah, I will be enjoying for the next three, four days, and then I’m back on the grass courts where I love to be. I can’t wait to step on it and start working and getting ready for Wimbledon.
Q. You’re clearly a serious player in matches, but were there any times during the tournament, on points or after points, where you’re really enjoying yourself, feeling happy, or just kind of locking in and saying, Oh, I actually hit a topspin lob winner or a slice forehand, that makes me feel good? Or is it all just deadly serious point by point?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, when I’m hitting a slice forehand there’s something wrong. I mean, shouldn’t be hitting a slice forehand.
Q. You hit a winner off one, though.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, that was a big mistake.
No, I mean, I’m sure there were points during the tournament where, you know, I was happy about them. But I think I didn’t play a great fourth round here. I felt like, you know, I had three good matches and then my level dropped a little bit in that fourth round.
I improved from that. You know, I came out of the match, and I said, You know, I have a chance; I’m in the quarterfinals; I have to step it up.
I think that was really like when I came off the court after that tough match where I didn’t feel like I was playing well and I said, you know, I’ve got to step it up. I can’t play like this if I want to win this tournament.
So that was something that I was just happy with.
Q. Since you started working with Thomas Hogstedt, your game seems to have improve a lot and you’ve reached tremendous success. What has he meant to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, he’s been a great addition, no doubt about it, to my team. I have a lot of respect for him and his work and his energy that he’s brought. I mean, from the first day in practice I thought I was going to suffocate. You know, to his energy in the box, to his words, and, you know, he studies the sport really well. I think he locks himself up in a room and watches tennis 24/7, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for that.
He loves the game, and he was really passionate to start working for me. I really appreciated that from the first day.
Q. Before this ceremony, you looked for a paper. Was there any special message?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no, I was just trying to figure out a few words in French. (Smiling.)
Q. You weren’t really prepared?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, no, nothing was prepared. I’m not one that writes a speech before the victory. Trust me. Not me.
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