Q. It looked like you had done
everything, the winners, dictated the game, and still you have
lost. How frustrating is it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's frustrating, but
it's the game of tennis. A lot of swings in the match
today. You know, certainly had the lead and the advantage.
She picked up her game. You know, in the third I think a lot
of it had to do with the returns. I didn't do much on her
service games. You know, she was winning them pretty easy.
You know, on mine they were quite long and just making too
many errors not putting any pressure on her. So that's, I
think, the most frustrating part.
Q. You want to talk about the last
game? You were serving from behind the whole third set.
That's tough anyway just trying to hold. What are you feeling
going out there at 4‑5?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it's a tough position,
but I got myself back from Love‑30 and from match point. Like
I said, she returned much better in those situations than I did.
I think I gave her too many free points, and that's this type
of match and these circumstances that, you know, you're not putting
that much pressure on your opponent it's a difficult situation to
go into, definitely.
Q. Starting out up 3‑Love, you were
confident at that point. What happened at that moment after
you were down 3‑1 and then you were up 4‑1?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I was up a set and a
break. I had game points to go up 2‑0. There's no doubt
she raised her level and she started playing better and moving
better. A few little things here or there certainly could
have changed things around.
Q. What's the toughest thing in
your game, in her game, when you're facing her? What's the
toughest thing for you when you're playing Azarenka?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, when you're in that
battle you're not thinking about your opponent. Of course you
have a strategy. You're thinking of a few things that will
help you. But a lot of it is instinct and believing your game
will eventually win you the match. But like I said, I think I
didn't make her play in certain situations of that third. We
can discuss the first and the second, but ultimately when it gets
to that third set, I just don't think I did enough on those games
to put any thought in her mind.
Q. It's not like she's bombing
serves like Serena, and I know she's consistent with her first
serve, but were you just not getting a good hit on the ball or
tougher to read?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, especially in the third
I wasn't doing anything with it. I think I was making one or
two errors and not even making her play, which is, you know, not
good. I thought I was doing a much better job of that in the
first and the second, and I think that put a lot of pressure on her
service games. But you know, not in the third.
Q. Was there any moment you thought
about your third set record this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was 4‑All, and anything
can happen that point; this one didn't go my way.
Q. How different a player is she on
hard court versus on other surfaces?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I think I've only
played against her on hard and clay. She's certainly improved
her movement on the hard courts. You know, she's in good
shape right now. Yeah, I don't think we ‑‑ I mean, we
were out there for over two hours. I think both of us could
still run and play for a while. I mean, I still felt I didn't
feel too tired in the end and she certainly had a lot of energy.
But as far as the differences, I only played her one match on
Q. You have been off court for just
a little bit, but the slam season is now over for you. You
had some fabulous results. Could you just talk about your
year, particularly in the slams, and, well, overall, what it's
meant for you, including flag bearer?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'll take them. I'll
take the results I had this year. (Smiling.) I look
back in the beginning of the season and not really ‑‑ I
remember going to Australia early and not really sure I was going
to play that warmup tournament. My ankle was still not
feeling great. So if anyone had told me when I had that
uncertainty going into the Australian Open that I would have this
type of season ‑‑ and it's still not over; we still have a few more
events to play ‑‑ I would have been pretty happy. I think you
mentioned this is the last one. That's really where I would
have loved to get even further, but it's certainly a step better
than the last few years I have been here.
Q. If you had to grade yourself on
this, the way you have played at this tournament given what you
know you can do and how you felt match after match, where would you
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In terms of what?
Q. Did you go out there feeling
like top of your game, everything was working well, or was it a
struggle for you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I mean, I can look at
it so many different ways. You know, like I said, there were
a lot of swings in the match. I was up, and, like, I mean,
who knows, if it's 2‑0 and she starts thinking. But, you
know, when I had my opportunities I don't think I took them.
I think when you're in the situation of a third set you have to put
pressure on your opponent. I just don't think I did that at
Q. Given that Serena, as you can
tell, is dominating right now against Errani ‑‑ it's 5‑1 ‑‑
assuming she does play Vika in the final, is there anything anybody
really can do against Serena when she's playing the dominating
tennis she's playing right now? What does Vika have to
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm not her coach.
(Smiling.) It's not in my job description. There's a
reason why everyone is in the draw. There is a reason why
everyone puts the net up in the morning for us to play matches.
No matter who is going in there as the favorite, no matter
how confident they are, everyone has a chance. She's No. 1 in
the world, and there is no reason why she shouldn't have a
Q. You seemed to obviously want
this win, no question. You were demonstrative about it.
Is there anything about this title that really made it more
important to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, it's New York; it's a
Grand Slam; it's the US Open. I mean, of course it's
meaningful. You want to perform well. You're in a
battle out there. This is what you practice for, is to get in
those situation and try to get out of them; today I just
Q. Are you going to stick around
for fashion week or do you head home or what do you do?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I have
been in the city for three weeks. It's been a while.
But I'm looking forward to checking out the ice cream truck
that's around the corner from my hotel. It's been haunting
me. (Laughter.) I'm telling the driver, like, Get out
of here. I can't look at you anymore. So I'll have time
for that. But other than that, I think I miss home and I just
want to be in a home atmosphere for a little bit.
Q. What flavor?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Vanilla with rainbow
Q. So do you say to yourself, I'm
happy I played Victoria much closer than I did at Australia and
Indian Wells and I came close to beating her, or do you say, big
missed opportunity; I should have won that match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I can look at it so many
different ways. Yeah, it's always a little bit tougher when
you feel like you have those chances. The scoreline was a lot
tougher this time, obviously, but the result wasn't what I wanted,
so... In both of them.
Q. With everything you have gone
through, how gratifying is it for you to be now consistently in the
hunt for big titles and to feel you're in that battle and in that
game all the way to the end?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, it's incredible. I
mean, I try to get a sense of that perspective as much as possible
because you can lose it so fast. The grinding, the days, and
the work that you put in and then the tournaments, everything kind
of just happens. It's a groove. It's easy to forget
where you came from and what you had to go through to get to that
point. But when I do think about it, I'm so lucky that I get
to play this sport, that I love playing it still, and that I feel
like I have a lot in me. Yeah, I'm No. 3 in the world right
now and was back at No. 1 winning Grand Slams again, so it's
certainty a great feeling.
Q. Jimmy Connors was saying last
week that no matter what you do after you're done playing, nothing
is going to be like being out there in front of 25,000 people
showcasing your talent.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I agree. There is
nothing in life that gives you that ‑‑ it's like that moment
that you experience. You know, the losing is always not fun,
but the victories and everything just happens in moments; whereas
in other careers I think it's such a different process. I
always, you know, try to compare it to maybe other careers where,
you know, you can be such a great actress or a model, but if nobody
puts you on a cover of a magazine, you can be so good, extremely
talented, but your career is always in the hands of other people.
It's just so difficult to think about. Or sometimes you
can be kind of so‑so, and then you're made into a star. So
it's such a unique situation. I was in a position where I was
out of the sport and I got to do many things, but there's nothing
like being in that moment. I mean, as tough as these days
are, it's always so gratifying when you're sitting in a press
conference at the end of winning a Grand Slam, you know, and
talking about how you got to that point. You can talk all
day. It's such a great feeling.
Q. Is it also controlling your own
destiny, where you say instead of somebody else choosing you for
that magazine cover, you're making it happen on the tennis
MARIA SHARAPOVA: A little bit,
definitely. You're controlling a lot more of your life than
maybe ‑‑ and not that ‑‑ I'm not trying to put down
anybody else. It's just how it works in those situations.
You know, I know many people in different industries, but I
always relate so much to athletes in terms of just the feelings
that they experience. You know, it's almost like when someone
does a movie for so many months, and then they go to the
Oscars. And in that moment that their movie is good is that
they win the Oscar. It's such a different thinking process
for me. I'm so happy I'm not in any other career. I
wouldn't trade this for anything.
Q. Our sport is built around these
great slams with their center courts. You talked about the
thrill of being out there. Of the four center courts in the
slams, what has the most meaning? What gives you the biggest
charge? What do you love the most?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, each one is so
different. I mean, the energy that you experience here in New
York is so unique. I mean, when you're in the changeover and
the music is just blasting, you don't even ‑‑ even in
Australia it's not like that. And in Wimbledon, there is so
much tradition. I love the fact that you walk out on the
court and there's no introductions. It's a matter of two
athletes going out there, and it's all about them and their tennis.
This is, of course, much more of a show and production.
It's great to have all of these different atmospheres, I guess.
Q. Tennis thrives on
rivalries. How would you describe the state of your rivalry
with Vika and where it might go?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: We both have many years ahead
of us. I'm sure we will be facing against each other many
more times in Grand Slams and other tournaments. You know,
she has the better record right now against me. Hopefully
when I'm done I can change that around.
Q. How do you get over this kind of
loss? Do you have a special routine?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I think just putting
things in perspective. Certainly in the last few years,
especially after my injury, I have been a lot better about
accepting wins and accepting losses. I try to think that if
you're level‑headed about difficult defeats and then if you get
something in your career that's incredible, but if you take it
as ‑‑ in a calm way, then the defeats don't seem as difficult.
So I try to ‑‑ I mean, after I won the French Open of
course I was so happy, but I had this really calm feeling that, you
know, like a settlement in my career. Like it wasn't like I
wanted to go out and party and tell the whole world that I had won.
It was just this feeling within in me that I had achieved
something that I had worked for. And losses, of course,
they're difficult and the world knows you lose. That's
sport. At the end of the day, that's what makes me
better. It motivates me to go back on the court and to