Monday June 20 , 2011
Maria Sharapova's interview before the start of Wimbledon 2011
LONDON.--(LadyDragon.com)20/06/11--Q. Can you tell us what you've been doing between Paris and here.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just training a lot on grass. I headed over to London a couple of days after I finished and been here since, yeah, training.
Q. How did you feel back on the grass?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Great. This is one of the best, you know, parts of the year for me. It's one of the toughest transitions from clay to grass, but for me it's a lot of fun. The bounce is low; it's quick.
Yeah, it takes a couple of days to get used to, you know, the bounce and everything. A little frustrating at times, but, yeah, it's a lot of fun.
Q. What is your sense of what Li Na's progress, and including winning the major, means to women's tennis around the world and in China?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think she's, you know, put a lot of work in throughout her whole career. She was always a player that you kind of expected that would do well at a certain point in time because she was the type of player that would, you know, upset -- have a lot of upsets, but maybe not quite get to the finals or win the majors.
But you had the feeling that she was going to break through. And I feel like she improved tremendously. You know, I felt that last year. She's had a great year this year. You know, I feel like she's raising her tennis and her level.
As far as for our tennis, I think it's great. What she's done for her country, China, all the pride that they have to have a Grand Slam champion from that country is incredible. I think it brings a lot of attention to the world, you know, that we have a champion from there.
Q Maria, what is your take on the return of the Williams sisters? Good for the game or what?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely. You know, they've been champions here for many years. You know, they're obviously the ones to beat on grass. You know, they've been out for a while. So it's definitely great to have them, yeah.
Q. What has the tour missed when they're not playing? It's not just a matter of them doing well on grass. They've been gone for a year basically. What does the tour lack when the Williams sisters aren't on the tour?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I think it's the matchups, the real matches that the people look forward to. They expect to see great tennis. You know, there's a point in time where I played Serena a few times in a row; it almost created a rivalry. It's more about the tougher matches, the ones people really look forward to.
Q. If they do well here after being away for so long, what sort of statement do you think that makes about the strength of the tour and the strength of their games?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I'm not sure. I mean, it will depend on the results. I mean, it's not just about playing one tournament. We have a lot of tournaments during the year.
Q. On the men's
side it's very hard to look beyond the top four seeds for
the men's winner. How open do you think the women's
competition is, given things like Serena, who's obviously
very good on grass, being seeded outside. There's quite a
lot of depth.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, there's obviously a lot of opportunities for the title. But I think, uhm, you know, I think we have to treat each match as if it's the final of the tournament, and you can't underestimate your opponent at any point in the time in the draw. I think it's really important to just focus on your next one.
I mean, I've never really been one to name favorites. It's not really been my job. I think that's more the media's job than anyone else's.
Q. Does it feel like a more open tournament, a whole load of people who could win it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah. But I think you could say that in many different situations.
Q. Do you feel in your best shape coming into here for two, three years?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I'm improving my tennis. I'm playing a lot better. I played a lot of matches on clay, which I really wanted to do. I always feel like, uhm, you know, one of the reasons I love the transition is because I feel like you learn so much about the game when you're on the clay courts. You think a little bit more constructing the points and all those things. I played a few tough three-setters.
Yeah, it's always good, like I said, to get back on the grass.
Q. What are your thoughts about the rematch of Isner and Mahut?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I saw that. Match made in heaven (laughter).
I don't know. I don't think it will go that long. But it's, yeah, funny how that happens. I don't think they've even played since. Yeah, it's amazing.
Q. What do you remember most about where you were, what you got to see of it last year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm sure I was in many different places, practicing, on the couch, taking a nap, eating, had three courses, they were still on. I think I even slept the whole night, woke up, and they were still on (smiling).
Q. What memory do you have of your title here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, wonderful memories. I think the fact that no matter what I achieve or, uhm, how I do here, that when I retire from my career, I know that I was a very small part of Wimbledon's history.
You know, it's incredible to be part of the tradition and all the champions. Yeah, hopefully I can repeat that. That would be a dream of mine. But only the best memories from here, yeah.
Q. Would winning Wimbledon again be better than anything else you could achieve in tennis?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I've said it since I came back from my injury. I said that if I could win another Grand Slam, it would mean more than the previous ones that I have, you know, just because before the injury everything was, you know, kind of moving up and everything was on a -- you just naturally woke up, you went to practice, and then all of a sudden one day it was kind of taken away from you.
You kind of have to step back and look at things from a different angle. And then when you get back there, you basically start from zero. You know, you try to get yourself to a level, uhm, where you can compete with the top players, beating them day in, day out. Yeah, it's a long process.
If I do achieve that, if it's here, if it's somewhere else, I think it would be my biggest achievement in my career.
Q. The little red dress at the player party, is there an element of competition with the other women when you dress for something like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, no. No competition. I was just really flattered that Alexander McQueen wanted me to be a part of the -- the British Council actually wanted to get together and a few designers designed dresses for some of the girls.
I was very fortunate to be part of Alexander McQueen's team. I am so flattered, because I think Sarah Burton, with the amount of work that she's had to do, I think she's just come out so strong and so great. The dress was from one of her first collections that she designed, so...
Q. What have you learned about yourself and the way you've come back from the injury? You spoke a little bit about examining priorities and maybe values as a result of that injury. What do you think you've learned about yourself through all this?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, that at the end of the day you really just do this for yourself. It's really about you and the ball and the racquet; you're trying to create something. You know, you have your coach, you have your parents, you know, you have great people around you.
But at the end of the day, it's really about your commitment and your drive, whether you want it or not. You know, you can have as many positive words and it's really helpful and beneficial, but if you wake up and, you know, you don't want it, then you're never going to achieve anything.
Q. So what did you learn about the desire that you do have to achieve in tennis as a result of this?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think I had many opportunities in the time to say that I've, you know, had enough or that I've achieved plenty, more than I ever thought I would, that I have all these accomplishments, but yet I still felt like there was something missing. I still felt like there was a lot more inside of me when I wanted to play.
When you realize that that's really what you want, I mean, I did many things, I worked on many projects, I spent holidays with friends and family that maybe I wouldn't get a chance to spend with in a regular tennis season.
But at the end of the day, those didn't mean anything compared to what it means to win tennis matches.