Maria Sharapova is back in her self-professed “favorite city,” ready to debut her little red dress and defend her US Open title, along with the city other Europeans scorn.
The Russian has struggled with a should injury all summer, though she says she is functioning at nearly 100 percent.
“Yeah, I mean, I got to realize it takes time,” said Sharapova on a new service motion that alleviates pain. “Changes, it takes time. But most importantly, I’m feeling really good. I’m happy to be back. I had a good week of training after L.A., practiced for five days, came out here, have had some really good practice sessions. All in all, it’s been good.”
Sharapova says the changes have upped the mph on her serve.
“I feel like I’m serving probably the biggest that I’ve served this year,” said the Russian, looking stylish in a black beret and full black Nike warm-up. “Middle of the year, around the time of the French Open, just trying to get a higher percentage of first serves in. Definitely in San Diego and L.A. I felt like I was hitting a lot bigger and more velocity.”
Sharapova’s little black dress was all the rage in New York last year, and this year the blonde Russian says she will go the other way with red, in honor of the “Big Apple.”
“I work with Nike designers all the time. I meet with them many times,” said Sharapova in response to if she ‘picked’ the dress. “I have a lot of fittings. I incorporate a lot of ideas into what I wear. After last year’s dress, which came out to be pretty successful, when we sat down we knew this was going to be pretty hard to top. We got out of black, out of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ We wanted to totally do a different things. We based it on the city. The city is my favorite city in the world. It’s red. I’ve never worn a red dress before. It’s a really big statement, as well, because it’s the Big Apple, apples are red.”
Explaining the process, Sharapova found her enthusiasm lost on the male press gathering.
“It was a really fun process because it was a challenge for us,” Sharapova said. “I’m working with a new set of designers. This is the first dress that’s seamless. I don’t know if you’re into it, but it’s seamless, all bonded material, yeah. Exciting stuff, huh? Just love hearing about it (smiling)?”
The Russian’s enthusiasm for New York City is in stark contrast to world No. 1 Justine Henin, who Saturday said she delayed coming to the City from Canada, saying NYC was too hectic and she preferred to spend her free time in her hotel.
“There’s just so many things to do, and it’s a vibe,” Sharapova said. “With every year I’ve gotten to appreciate it more and more. It has like a buzz. When you’re walking down the street, usually I don’t like to walk, I’d much rather drive, but here I can walk all day. It would actually be cool to put on a suit, walk around the city and go to work or jump in a Yellow cab. There’s so many interesting things about it. Every little town you go to, it seems like you have a hip part of town, you have an older part of town, you have the new town coming up. And the food, I mean, I’ve had a meal at a different restaurant every single night, and I haven’t had a bad meal, and I’m a big food fan. Every year I come back to like 10 new restaurants to go to. So that’s always fun. And the shows. Yeah, it doesn’t seem like people could actually live here. I don’t picture New York having a grocery store or something. It just seems like this huge amusement park from ride to ride.”
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