Toronto 1st Round Interview

Maria lost to Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-4 3-6 4-6

Q. Welcome back to Toronto.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Thank you.

Q. How does it feel to be back after, I guess, eight years?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not great now.

Q. Obviously.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was definitely longer than I had thought was the last time since I competed here. I thought it was a few years and, yeah, it’s been since 2011.
Obviously would have liked to have played a little bit more than, yeah, the end result.

Q. Can you just talk through that match? What do you think was the difference? And, I mean, getting through the match, a difficult physical match like that, how are you feeling at the end of it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it was. It was a physical match throughout. You know, I think she was the aggressive player, took a few more chances in the end, and I think it paid off.
I put a lot of work in to get to this stage, so I think to finish off this match is good. Definitely not the result I would have liked, but overall feeling pretty good about it.

Q. (Off microphone.)
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I’m still building the confidence and my forms and that’s something that’s just going to come with time and with match play. Unfortunately, I just haven’t had that yet, so will just hopefully try to build on it.
You know, there’s never the perfect scenario. You know, I’m going to be coming up against tough players, long matches, and there are always going to be tests. And I always have to play my best tennis no matter who I play.
So it will just take time to build that confidence again, because I have struggled with it for a long time.

Q. Where are you still finding that passion for the love of the game after being away from it for some time?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, in matches like tonight, I mean, you know it’s easy to say losing it and losing a few in a row and withdrawing from Wimbledon, obviously that was really tough.
But, yeah, I believe in myself and I believe in my ability. And I think you can see I really love what I do, so as long as I still have that. If I go out on the court and I’m just moping around and not giving a few “Come ons” out there and pumping my fists, that’s when that’s gone.

Q. You have changed coaches and what does your team look like?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I haven’t – well, I have changed obviously since I came here with Alex and just my physio. And I don’t think it’s so much of a change as just to simplify things a little bit. I guess downsize.
I spent a few weeks in Europe working with Riccardo Piatti, which was really nice and just a different perspective from someone that didn’t expect me. (Smiling.) I crashed his summer camp.
But we all had a great time. I worked really hard, but I felt – really, I felt like I had fun at the end of it, which was really important.
But, yeah, he’ll be at the US Open, which will be nice. He looks after a few kids so, yeah, we’ll be together there.

Q. So what is your goal for the end of the year looking forward?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, I would love to keep competing. I would love to stay healthy and pull through these types of matches.

Q. From Wimbledon until now, what is the work or treatment that you’ve been able to get in order to get the arm better? It looked pretty good today. And given how much you were able to train, are you pleased with the level that you were able to play today or were you disappointed?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it’s fair to say you’re disappointed with the result on paper, but I think there’s a lot of good things that I could take away from this match.
I think technically I worked on a lot of things. And, you know, now I feel like my shoulder is getting a little bit stronger. I worked on that for many months, and so was able to put in the repetition in my serve, which throughout this year just I really haven’t. So that was a positive and I got good feedback on that.
And I can still improve, but, yeah, and there’s definitely things that coming off of a match like this, I still need to improve, and those little opportunities and windows that maybe most of the time, for me, came a little bit naturally when I used to play week in and week out and didn’t really think twice about things.
But I’ve handled that before and overcome it, so, yeah, I guess that’s the process of coming back.

Q. After a match like this, how do you recover? Like when are you going to hit again?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: When I will what?

Q. Do you train again after a match like this?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I train most of the time.

Q. You don’t take a break?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: This is not really the time to take a break. I’ll take a break in November. Even though on Instagram I look like I’m constantly taking a break, which is great.

Q. How did the party-crashing of Piatti’s academy come about and what was the idea of going down there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I went to stay in Europe. I had some things to do there.
And actually, I’ve always seen Riccardo from the sidelines and, you know, I think I value his experience and he’s – not just himself but his whole team, and it was just kind of like a back-to-basics kind of trip. I was with my family and my parents. And, you know, was working in the morning, in the evening, but we had — it was fun. I don’t know how else to say it.
I came out of it and I was like, I don’t really – of course I care if I win or if I lose, but I was really proud of the effort that we all put into it, and I didn’t really expect any results. Sometimes, you know, when you put in work, you kind of want to see results immediately.
I just was content with what I did and the choice that I made, and I was just happy to be able to come here and play.

Q. You spoke about coming back to Toronto for the first time since 2011 now, and this happens to be the one tournament that you don’t really usually play in past years, but every time you come back, Montreal or Toronto, you always get enormous crowd support, including tonight. So I just want to ask you, what is it about the Canadian fans that really excites you and really tries to make you bring out your best tennis for them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think they’re passionate about sport in general. And I think tennis has really been on their map because they’ve had a lot of amazing stars in the last few years that have really brought the rest of us on the map and got all of them excited about all the rivalries in the matches.
And, yeah, as you said, it’s just been a tough week for me, too, for some reason. Whether it’s injuries or just a tough week on the schedule, I just haven’t — I mean, the amount of times I have withdrawn from this tournament is crazy.
So the fact that I’m here, I was like, Oh, my goodness, Carl, I’m so sorry I missed it these last few years.
But I do. When I’m in the draw and I’m here, I do want to compete the best that I can, and I want to play the best tennis for the fans. And most of them maybe have never seen a tennis match before, and you want to show them, yeah, the reason that you’re here.

Q. You used to say that Twitter was something that you would never use and that you wouldn’t care about what you ate for breakfast or anything, but Twitter has become a source of refuge for you now where you can show positivity and show that you’re jumping in Florence. So what lead to the whole change of just wanting to then use Twitter and how it’s given you at least some positive vibes for your fans?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m actually not on Twitter very often. I think I prefer Instagram. I think it’s a little more creative. I actually don’t have Twitter or Facebook on my phone. I usually just send the content over to my team to post.
I think Twitter is just not a healthy place at the moment, to be honest. I don’t know. I think we all try to make it, you know, by posting pictures like you’re jumping in Florence. But at the end of the day, I think it’s a tougher place than that; right?
But Instagram is just more of a creative platform, and I think you can be a little more expressive without — I don’t know. I enjoy it. You got to do things that you enjoy, especially when you’re sharing parts of your life with fans or people.
So I definitely enjoy that a little bit more than other forms of social media.