Wimbledon 3rd Round Interview

Q. Is everything going according to plan?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel like, considering I didn’t play a tournament before, with each match I’ve had a different type of opponent on different courts, I’ve been handling it quite well.
Today was another match against a big server and a big hitter. On grass that can be quite dangerous. I was quite happy that I was able to win in a solid two sets.

Q. Does the court you play on matter to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not really. I think now it’s good for me that I have been able to play on each court. So no matter where I play Monday, I’ll know what to expect a little bit more.

Q. Players at this stage talk about taking matches one match at a time. How easy or difficult is that to do in reality?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it’s a little bit easier than getting ahead of yourself and thinking too far down the line because then you expect yourself to be in that position.
Of course, you expect to raise your level with every match, but you have to be realistic against every opponent and you can’t underestimate anyone’s level.
I think it’s maybe just a smarter way to go about a tournament.

Q. Has that ever happened to you, you’ve looked ahead?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m sure, yeah. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in my mind and in other ways, definitely.

Q. You have either Petkovic or Diyas next.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I know quite a bit about both. I play Diyas in Australia this year. I think that was our first meeting. I haven’t played Petkovic in quite some time. But, yeah, I think she’s the favorite to win that match.
Despite whoever I play, it will be a new match and a chance to get to the quarterfinals, a place where I lost last year.
I’ll definitely go out there and try to change that result around.

Q. You are a fashion icon off the court. How do you like Dustin Brown’s style or look?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I like individuality. I think that’s the great thing about fashion. People are able to express their characters, their personalities, their spirit. I think he’s done a great job with that.

Q. Did you watch the game? Did you like his performance on Centre Court?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I was playing bocci ball actually during that match. Had some competitions with my team. But I did get a chance to see the beginning of it while I was doing treatment, yeah.

Q. Since 2003, has the grass changed dramatically at all?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think you see a lot longer rallies than you did in that time. Especially out on Court 2, I felt quite a big difference than Centre Court on the first day out there.
You kind of think the conditions would be the same. But maybe because of the heat, the ball gets a little bit heavier. Definitely had much longer rallies than the first match.

Q. Does the heat bother you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. I’m quite used to the heat. I’ve trained in warm conditions growing up in warm areas, so…

Q. You’ve been up in the top 10 now for a decade, you and a few others. Younger players come up and fall away quite quickly. Is there any reason for that? Why have you managed to stay up there so long?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think experience. It’s never easy. I think consistency is one of the toughest things. You can have a good year, you can have some good tournaments where you find yourself in the top 10 or in the top 5 occasionally.
I think your expectations of your level obviously rise dramatically because you see yourself at a bigger stage, you see some results from yourself, and you expect yourself to be there on many more occasions.
When things don’t go according to plan, it’s obviously a little bit tough. You have to go back to the thinking board and create some new ideas and go back to what worked for you.

Q. In what ways do you think the experience of having won here fuels that desire and passion to do it again?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No doubt about that. That’s certainly something that I think about every time I step onto the grounds. The memories of being a champion, the experience of going through those two weeks not expecting myself to be the champion at that stage in my career, yet holding up the plate, always carrying those memories with me every time I step on the court here.

Q. Over the past 10 years, are you much better than you used to be?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: In which ways?

Q. Do you feel much better in the past 10 years than you have?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I feel I’ve grown many different areas of my game. I think I was still growing at the age when I was playing here as a 16 , 17 year old. I wasn’t as physically developed yet. I couldn’t handle the longer rallies at that point.
My shoulder was extremely loose. I could go out from the first warmup ball and just hit a 110 mile an hour serve. I think those days are over for me. But that was a nice feeling as a young girl.
You know, I was very much in the development stage in my game, in my thinking process, in my experience.

Q. When you had the shoulder problems, what kept you going through that? Sometimes players give up.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I mean, selfishly just a really powerful feeling as a woman to feel that you’re good and you can be better at what you do.
I wake up in the morning, and although I have many other passions and interests, sometimes you’re like, Oh! The alarm goes on, Do I really have to wake up for this?
When I’m out there, hitting the tennis ball has always been a motivation. No matter how good or bad things go on around me in my life, I find it invigorating. I love that feeling of just getting better.
I lost that for some time because obviously an injury takes you back to a place where you can improve and you might not ever be able to do that again.
That perspective makes things you think in the future, you think if you have the opportunity to do it again, how lucky you are, so…

Q. When you came off court, you said you absolutely believed you could win this Championship. Is that because you’ve done it before or because of the way you’re playing and feeling right now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think every time I enter a tournament, I have to be ready mentally and physically to be the champion of the event. If I don’t have that belief in me, I think it would be pretty tough to go through the two weeks and just go out there and go through the motion. It’s really not the type of player that I’ve ever been.

Q. How does the enjoyment compare to the run when you didn’t expect it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think obviously the feelings change in a way. But the emotions are very different. When you’ve had success for a long period of time and you’ve won Grand Slams, you expect yourself to be in that situation. When you’re not, it’s a little bit more disappointing.
I think going through that injury in 2008 really put a good perspective in me where I realized how grateful I am to win matches and how it’s not so bad to lose matches. I think that’s really helped me in the last five years since I’ve been injured.

Q. Serena and Venus could play each other. They started in 1998, a long time ago. How incredible they’re still there?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I started my career playing on the professional tour when they were already Grand Slam champions, rivalries against each other, creating history already. Still to be playing in their generation where Serena is No. 1 in the world, has won so many amount of Grand Slams, and to still be part of that is an exciting time.

Q. How do your days off the court differ here when you’re staying in a house compared to the usual?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: We get to share a home here, which is nice and not so nice. I’m surrounded by a lot of males in the house. It becomes a little challenging because we’re all on different rhythms.
It’s actually quite fun. We’re all different characters, but we all get along nicely. We’re all home bodies. We stay home and cook and enjoy our time. We have a nice garden. We play some games outdoors. Got a little bigger house this time.

Q. You said you were playing bocci last night. Are you any good at it?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Terrible, yeah. I’m not good at many other sports besides tennis. It’s actually frustrating because I’m so competitive. I’m getting better. It’s better than my bowling skills.

Q. It’s become fashionable on the men’s tour to have a former champion in your corner. Can you ever see yourself sitting in the box as a mentor or guide to a younger player?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think so. I’ll just give you an honest answer. I think it’s incredible that someone is able to take their knowledge and experience and bring it to a younger generation or be a mentor to someone that has been on tour for many years. That’s not something that I could see myself doing.