Wimbledon 1st Round Interview

Q. Before this first round you said you were expecting a tough match. I think you got definitely a tough start for the tournament.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I did. Yeah, I had a really tough first round. I expected it. I knew she would come out playing extremely well.
I think she has a good game for the grass courts. She has, as you saw, a very good serve, good first serve. You know, the first set we didn’t break each other. Women’s tennis, kind of rare, so…
It was nice to get that breaker and definitely start the second set off being up 4 1, still having chances to maybe finish it off a bit easier than it should have been in the second.
I’m really happy with the way I came out and played my first match. The first ones are always pretty tough, especially on the grass.

Q. Would you prefer tough first round matches when you see the draw, see a big hitter? Is that something you like? Would you like something a little more regular?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I just have to handle whatever’s across the net, whoever’s playing me on that side of the draw, just who’s next. It’s not like I choose and pick. It’s whoever’s there.
Some opponents, you know, maybe have a better game for grass, so sometimes maybe you prefer playing them in different tournaments.
To be honest, whoever is across the net, you’re trying to win the match, it’s a tennis match. That’s pretty much how I see it.

Q. After your comments on Saturday, Serena was here yesterday. She said she apologized to you. What happened?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, you know, honestly, I’ve said everything that I wanted to say about the issue. You know, Wimbledon started. This is my work. This is my job. I’d really appreciate it if we move on.

Q. Just to clarify, she said she apologized. Did you receive an apology from her?MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, as I just said, I’d really like to move on.

Q. Is part of it because you don’t want it to be a distraction?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. It’s because Wimbledon just started. This is one of the most incredible tournaments. This is where all of us work. This is our job. Our job is to go out on the court and work and try to win matches and nothing else.
That’s the most important thing to me in my life right now.

Q. Is your feeling more of sorrow or anger about what occurred?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Nothing really.

Q. This week there’s a commemoration of 40 years of the WTA. We have some of the best players ever playing right now. When you think of the sport, who do you consider the greatest woman player ever and why?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: That’s an extremely tough question because I wasn’t part of the generation which consisted of incredible players. I can only speak of the generation that I was part of.
I never played Steffi Graf. I never played Chris Evert. Never played Navratilova. So those are considered incredible champions.
So I think on many different levels, they all deserve a tremendous amount of respect. And I don’t think one should be called greater than the other. There’s no real reason for that.

Q. If you could play one player who you haven’t played?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Probably Steffi.

Q. How do you think you’d play with her great forehand, her speed?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think she’d chop me up (smiling).

Q. You were old enough to see her play and remember seeing her play. Do you remember her being dominant and thinking when you watched her that she was so dominant, she could beat anyone?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I don’t think I ever thought about dominance. Quite honestly, I never watched so much of tennis. I don’t know many statistics. I just never followed it all the time. Just when the Grand Slams were on television, I would watch. Other than that, I never really … I don’t know anyone’s record or how they did against each other or who had a dominant year and who didn’t.
I enjoyed watching her play because of her game, her composure, the way she carried herself. Yeah, there’s just so many positives about her.

Q. You said she would chop you up. How do you think it would work out if it were Graf against Serena Williams?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Such different styles. I think till this day, I’m sure maybe Steffi plays here and there, but I think she still has a pretty incredible slice, especially on grass, which is a big weapon to have.
I don’t know. I think it would be a really interesting matchup.

Q. You were saying before Wimbledon starts, this is your job, all of that. You’re used to compartmentalizing. Is this time difficult doing it or you’re so used to doing it it’s routine?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not at all. I’m actually so much better. I mean, of course I treat this as my job because it is my job, because this is what I work for. When I go out on the court, this is where all the work goes in. Why would I be thinking about anything else?
I’ve always treated my life like that and my career, and hopefully I will.

Q. Do you generally have a good relationship with the other players in the tournament?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: During the tournament? Actually, it doesn’t matter.
Uhm, I’m not really friendly or close to many players. I have not a lot of friends away from the courts, but in all different parts of the world, you know, and actually in England, that’s why it’s been nice to be here for the last couple of weeks. Hasn’t really felt like, you know, I’ve been away from home too much.
But I wouldn’t say I’m really close to a lot of players.

Q. Is the one on one competition where there’s always going to be a winner and loser, is that a tough part of the job, or is that just something that you come to enjoy, the competitive nature of your profession?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I do enjoy it. That’s one of the reasons I play if it’s not ‘the’ reason. I enjoy competing out there for a win, whether it’s a first round or the final. If you’re a tennis player and you grew up playing tennis as a young girl or boy, you’re dreaming to be on big stages like Wimbledon, like we are here.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t just focus all on that and enjoy the competition, because that’s what you work for.

Q. It’s not clear yet who your next opponent will be, but can you break down the prospects against each of them separately?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I haven’t played Oudin in a really long time, I think since the US Open, since my loss to her. It would be great to play her again.
And I don’t think I’ve ever faced the other girl that she’s playing against. But I think she’s someone that’s coming up and has a big game. Also probably really good on grass. So, yeah.

Q. When you say you’re not really close to a lot of players, is that something strategic that you’re doing? Do you think it’s different on the men’s tour than the women’s tour?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not at all. I think just because you’re in the same sport doesn’t mean that you have to be friends with everyone just because you’re categorized, you’re a tennis player, so you’re going to get along with tennis players.
I think every person has different interests. I have friends that have completely different jobs and interests, and I’ve met them in very different parts of my life.
I think everyone just thinks because we’re tennis players we should be the greatest of friends. But ultimately tennis is just a very small part of what we do. There’s so many other things that we’re interested in, that we do.

Q. Some athletes don’t want to be friends with other athletes because they don’t want to give away secrets or form a bond.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think there are really any secrets out there, yeah.

Q. What was your take on Kim Clijsters when she was active and would be so engaging to other players and people, so friendly? She even said once her goal was to make friends on the tour.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I have always admired Kim. She’s not just a great player but an incredible person. She had a tremendous amount of class on and off the court. That’s why I think everyone to this day respects her a lot.

Q. Through your activities on the tour and with the United Nations, you’ve traveled all over the world, met international political figures. What are your thoughts today about Nelson Mandela who is in critical condition?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: For someone with such a big name, who has touched so many people in this world, I think it’s extremely sad to see him in that position. I think it should be a celebration of what he accomplished in his life than a sadness, even though many people around the world are sad about it.

Q. What does his legacy mean to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, from what I see in the news that I watch and the papers that I read, he’s extremely influential to so many people on a very positive level.
Never had a chance in my life to meet him. But the people that have met him have said incredibly nice things about him.

Q. You said that you like being in England. What is it that you particularly like about England as opposed to other places you’ve been?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I’ve been on the road for a while. Coming into Wimbledon and London, I feel like I’ve been in many big cities, but coming to this part of London, it quiets things down. It’s nice waking up to the birds chirping rather than the taxis or things I’ve heard in the last six or seven weeks.
It’s been a really nice balance. I really enjoy coming here, being able to be in a home and cook, don’t have to go out or eat anywhere. It’s just a home environment rather than being in hotels and going to restaurants.
It’s a bit more domestic, I guess.