Q. Very close match. What are your thoughts on the difference in the end today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.
Um, you know, strike the ball well in the first set. You know, obviously in the second set, I didn’t hold my serve enough times. You know, didn’t serve well throughout the whole match, I thought; just didn’t have enough velocity or pace on that shot. And lost a little bit of accuracy on the return, you know, the last couple of sets.
I think that might have cost me a little bit.
Q. Of course, you had your chance. It was a close match. But, do you think being on court yesterday affected the outcome of the match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, it’s obviously the amount of hours that we play is quite different in an event.
But when you go on court, that doesn’t really matter. That’s all thrown away and you still have to play the match.
And I think, physically, I handled that, you know, that difference quite well out there.
I think I battled well. You know, it’s always going to be a physical match against Simona. And I thought, you know, despite all things, I was there physically. No problems with that whatsoever.
Q. Really important step towards Roland Garros. Important step, Rome, this tournament for you. Close, but in the direction of Paris?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, of course.
I think there are a lot of good things that I can take away from a week like this. Setting myself up with good opportunities. I think I was put in a lot of difficult situations within the matches. A lot of the matches were very physical.
And considering it’s been a third tournament in weeks, I haven’t handled that very well body-wise in a long time. I think that’s – I mean, that’s a very good thing personally for me.
So, yeah, you know, it’ll be great to recover the next couple of days and then head to Paris and get ready.
But overall, I would say, yes, you’re right, a step in the right direction toward the next one.
Q. Compared to how you came into, say, Stuttgart and to now, with all the results and everything, how different of a mind frame are you in now with respect to your game compared to when you were kind of first stepping on clay?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.
Yeah. Well, look, I came to Stuttgart with three losses and left Stuttgart with four losses. And, you know, through that process, obviously, it’s always difficult to come in at the end of a match and speak about losing.
But in Stuttgart, I felt like there were a lot of good things from the weeks of training that I had done and I had delivered onto the court. And I know that’s not the result that I wanted, but I was somewhat optimistic. And also from like a body perspective, which is important for me. That was a big test, a long match.
Yeah. You know, you have to put yourself, after losing those matches, you still have to put yourself on the line and show up and deliver. And do it with authority.
And I think that’s what I’m most proud of is, you know, I had a lot of opportunities in the last few weeks in Madrid and here to just back down, too, you know, let little things bother me. But, I got through them. And set up real good situations for myself. A lot of court time and match play. All good things that I wanted.
Q. Do you think you’re more on form, on shape mentally or physically or both? Because today, Nadal explained that Djokovic is more tired mentally than physically when he loses, for instance, the second set. Because he says, when you are mentally fit, you are – you find automatical/easier all the shots; you don’t have to think about each shot. So, in his opinion, it’s more important, the mental, anyway, than the physical. I’d like to know what about you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it’s a little bit of both. And there’s no — you know, everyone has a different formula for what works for them; and everyone’s always in a different position.
And I think that’s what makes the sport really great is no one is in exactly the same position in the sport. No one comes into the draw feeling the same mentally, physically.
And at the end of the tournament, it’s kind of that person that figured it out, what was best for themselves, what was the preparation, what did it take, what was their mind-set going into the match. How did they handle like physical matches?
So, I think that’s what we have to love about this sport is every day is different. I mean, you know, to see a champion to still have the desire to like go through so many incredible victories and kind of go on a little bit of a downfall and then face injuries and then still go out there and compete, I think that speaks for itself, you know.
And we’ve seen a lot of players do that, and I have a lot of respect for that.
Q. There were 19 breaks of serves today. We’ve seen, in many matches, where the momentum goes in the way of the server, both players serve quite easily. In a match like this with so many breaks, is it similar to that? You know, was it difficult to get out of that rhythm to breaking serve?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.
I mean, you know, there’s – Yeah, it’s hard to say right now so quickly after the match. But, yeah, as I said, it wasn’t my best serving performance today. I mean, that was the first thing that I mentioned.
And although I did – I think the return really helped me in the first set, in the way that I strike that first ball off of the return. I just – I lost that accuracy in the next two sets.
And still wasn’t – you know, my pace wasn’t there. And maybe that was like the physicality of playing like on the fifth day. But, those are expected things. And, you know, I still got myself in the point; but I just didn’t win those games, as you said.
Q. You’ve been a constant advocate for equality for women at the Grand Slams, a lot of the other things that the WTA has pushed for. How much do you think that should be a priority at tournaments like this, where there’s not equal prize money — the women only get roughly about half of what the men get here – to try to pull these sort of events level with the mens Masters purses?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah.
I guess, you know, you could look at it a couple different ways. One, we’re playing the same week and it’s men’s and women’s. So from like that perspective, it should be equal.
But I guess this is not like the tournament like Madrid, right, where it’s –
Q. Several now.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: So I don’t really like know the technical aspects of that.
But, of course, I would love to see equality in these types of events. And I think that the difference is quite drastic, from what I’ve seen.
So, you know, if it’s not equal tomorrow, can we get there in some time? And can we at least push it to being closer to equal tomorrow? And then get to equality later on.
Q. Obviously, it’s so quick after the match. But what are your plans between now and Paris?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just recover a little bit. Get to Paris. Train. Work.
Q. Possibly dumb question about Slams.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Don’t do it.
Q. You’ve had a lot of outfits you had planned you never got the chance to wear because you were off tour. Whatever happened to those? Are those gone forever, or are you going to bring some back later?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Are there ones you are particularly interested in?
Q. Your 2016 French Open outfit, whatever happened to that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Um, I don’t even – I don’t remember what it actually looked like. Obviously, (laughing).
I don’t have them. I have all the ones that I’ve worn.
But, yeah, I guess it’s like sad because you work on them in advance and you don’t end up wearing them. But, that’s all right. I mean, there are a lot worse things that I could talk about.