Q. How did it feel to be back on the grass?MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was great to be back on Centre Court, considering that I didn't play a warmup tournament. I felt like I had to be ready from the first point. I played against an opponent that's been in the top 10 before. Hasn't had the best results this year. But you don't quite know what to expect. I'm sure, you know, she'd come out in the match and have nothing to lose. I thought she played a really good match, and I really had to step it up. I thought I did a good job of that.
Q. It was all Russian once again. In the past you've talked about Russian tennis. You've said there's not too many alternatives. Also talk about some of the other elements, the toughness of the culture, the roles of Kournikova, Yeltsin, the Olympics, if you would. MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's a really big country, full of incredible culture, and many great athletes have come from the country, not just from the sport of tennis. We're very fortunate because I think we were given the drive from our parents. That really encouraged us and sacrificed a lot in our careers to get us to a point where we want to be in our certain careers. I think we have to thank them for that. Because when you're at a young age, everything is in their hands from the drives to the practices to the encouragement on bad days. Yeah, in the beginning it was a lot about the Olympic sports and hockey, in the beginning of my life, and gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics. Now tennis is one of the biggest sports there.
Q. Obviously your father is an incredible man. Comes to America, puts you on a bicycle taking you to the tennis lessons. How does he express the Russian culture with that determination?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just think he never really believed that he didn't have much. I think coming from a place where that amount of money didn't exactly mean that you were poor. We were living as a normal family. They could have had a normal job and I could have gone to school and they would have supplied my school and everything around that. But they sacrificed their lives because they saw a talent in my game and they got recommendations from outer people, because it certainly wasn't my parents' expertise, the sort of tennis. It was just a fun activity for my dad, and my mom couldn't really care less about it. They made that big decision to go to a country where tennis was a lot bigger, more facilities. It's tough. But I think his drive came from the fact that he never really thought that he didn't have much. Even though it was really tough, I think he kept believing that one day he would have more, even if it was one trophy, even if it was one more dollar, one victory over another, yeah.
Q. Inside yourself, so many years in L.A., do you feel more like a Russian than an American internally?MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just have always had the Russian feeling inside of me. There was a point in my career where I got a lot of questions living in the United States for such a long time, leaving when I was young from my country, why I never chose to change citizenships. One of the reasons is 'cause deep down inside of me, I know where I'm born. I'm really proud of it, of my Siberian roots, moving to Sochi. Apart from my parents, all my family lives there. It's all about Russian culture. We speak Russian. We talk Russian. I talk to my grandparents constantly. I call them. I speak to my parents in Russian, eat Russian food, all of that. I leave my house, and most of my friends some of foreign, some are American. I speak to my coaches in English. It's different.
Q. You've talked about how you feel that everything is more meaningful to you now after coming back from your injury. How important is it to you at this point to win another Grand Slam?MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course it's important. It would be a wonderful achievement. But I'm really happy to be playing something that I really love. I don't look ahead and think how amazing it would be to hold the trophy. Obviously I'm very fortunate to have had that feeling before and knowing how good that feeling is. That's what drives you deep down inside. But I also think on the other hand if you want something so bad that you can't sleep over it, where is that going to get you, as well? I think time will tell and you just have to be patient and work as hard as you can and give it all you have, and then the rest will take care of itself.
Q. You said you spoke Russian, ate Russian food. MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's a character that I feel is inside of me. There is I think something natural about it, and it's within me. I don't think it's something that you can really explain, that you can put into someone. I think it's more of a feeling than anything else.
And she thinks in English but dreams only in Russian, yeah. Like I said, she's cosmopolitan.
You might want to check out this one. Acknowledging her American & other ties, she goes on:
"...I go back to Russia and it feels so amazing, you know, when you're in a hotel or even at home and just calling and talking and speaking Russian, seeing the signs in Russian. I feel like that's where I always was. "
The key locale in Sochi. Here's a vid from when she traveled in support of the Winter Games bid:
Could not have said it better myself. She's proud of who she is and she is also very worldly and open minded.