Miami Quarter-final Interview

Q. That turned into a pretty solid win for you. How do you think it sort of shifted midway through the first?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I didn’t have a good first few games, so I was happy that I was steady, that, you know, I kept trying to do the right thing, kept trying to be aggressive.
And I think that paid off as the match went on, because I made a few too many unforced errors in the beginning.

Q. People talk about her as being a player when she plays her absolute best she can hit pretty much anybody on tour off the court.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Of course.

Q. Would you agree with that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely. She’s a Grand Slam champion. You can never underestimate someone that goes on the court that has that experience, that’s had such a big win in her career. She’s capable of playing really great tennis, and I think everyone knows that.

Q. What’s your prematch routine like? Do you eat the same food? Listen to the same music?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I usually stick to a similar routine at all tournaments. Food is always different based on where you are, but it’s always pretty simple.
I like to spend some time by myself to read, to listen to music, and have a good 15 or 20 minutes right before the match of warming up and getting myself going.

Q. Is there a musical taste that you stick to during that time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s all over the map. It really depends how I feel. Sometimes I don’t listen to music at all. Sometimes I need something to‑‑ if I’m feeling a bit down or low on energy, I need something a bit faster.
But nothing in particular.

Q. When did you find out that you got the momentum back again to win the second set? You just started and flew. What happened?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I started getting more chances as we played more games in the first set. I had a break point I think maybe in the fourth or fifth game, not exactly sure when. You know, she hit a great serve. There wasn’t much I could do there.
Little by little I started seeing more opportunities and started getting myself back in the points and playing my game, playing well, going inside the baseline.
You never are sure until you finish the match and you win the last point, but I really felt like I started doing the right things.

Q. You have Serena next. Obviously you have played quite a few times. What are your thoughts on chapter 15 and 16 of that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s no secret that she’s been a big challenge of mine, an opponent that obviously I would love to beat. There are certainly, you know, ways that I need to step up in certain situations that I haven’t been able to do in the past against her.
But it’s great that I have come to that stage and have the opportunity to play her again.

Q. Sort of a trial and error type thing, have you done something that has worked in the past?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel in the last few times I have played I have had my chances and opportunity and something that maybe I didn’t quite create, you know, say, a couple years ago.
Yeah, it’s about taking those. Someone, an opponent that plays with so much confidence and so much power, you really need to take those few opportunities that you have.

Q. Do you get the sense that she plays you differently than she plays other opponents?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: She always ‑‑she plays well all the time.

Q. Question about the pretty/tough thing and Strong is Beautiful campaign. What do you think the balance is with WTA players between promoting them as athletes and promoting them in a way, marketing them in a way that they know can sell too, the kind of glamour side of tennis? How does that balance seem to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think as players we want to be known for our strength on the court, because at the beginning of our careers that’s what we started off as. We didn’t start off with modeling agencies. We started off grinding on walls or in tough circumstances and tough situations where we had to grind out and become, you know, top professional players.
We didn’t start in a promotional advertisement modeling world. That was never our job. There are a lot of people that can take care of those things. Our focus has always been the game and the opportunities that we are able to create with the game that we produce and the results that we produce.
It’s fun. I have been very fortunate in my career to have the opportunities that I have.
But in terms of promoting us not just by being strong but beautiful, it’s not what’s on the outside. I think what we possess as athletes about being professional, about what we do on the court, and then all the other activities that we have, it’s not just about being a tennis player. There are so many other things that we have to be strong in, as well.

Q. When you see a young player like Genie Bouchard getting a lot of attention not only for tennis but also on the looks side, does someone like that ever seek you out for advice about how to navigate that whole world of sort of extra publicity?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it certainly adds another dimension of pressure. I think it’s changed very much to when I was a teenager.
Now you have social media, which is a very powerful thing. I think a lot of teenagers are very influenced by it because they are surrounded by it. They have no escape sort of from it.
Once you get in, it’s tough to really get out. You’re always around, you know, opinions. No matter who you are, how great you are, there are always going to be those that don’t have nice things to say. And probably as a younger player, someone that’s just coming up, that’s always challenging to take in the beginning of your career.
You know, now when you see that shift of teenagers doing extremely well, pushing at Grand Slams at an earlier age, it gives them‑‑ you know, the hype I think is a lot bigger than maybe many years ago because you don’t see that so often.
And that adds another level of pressure. You know, all of a sudden you’re photographed by Vogue or, you know, you’re talked about. It can become difficult, yeah.

Q. Does it feel like 10 years since that’s happened to you? Ten years ago you won Wimbledon. Does it feel like that long?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yes and no. I mean, I look back at that moment and I’m really proud of what I achieved, but I’m so happy with the directions and the decisions that not only I made, but people around me made.
I was surrounded by really smart people that taught me how to say no and, you know, taught me how to be grounded in those situations.
I learned a lot through that process, because it’s so easy to do well and think you’re on top of the world because, you know, you get kicked in the bottom really fast once you believe that you’re on top of everything.

Q. What were some of those good decisions early on that I guess set you up to succeed later?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I had a lot of opportunities. I had a lot of sponsorship opportunities I could have taken but I said no to because of the time consumption or photo shoots I could have been a part of, amazing events I could have gone to.
Just a lot of different ‑‑parties. I mean, the list goes on and on.

Q. Knowing what you know now, would you have any advice for yourself ten years ago?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It doesn’t really matter because that time has passed. So, you know, I don’t want to sit here and be giving myself advice as a 17 year old (smiling).