Wimbledon 3rd Round Interview

Q. Kind of a slight shock at the start, then cruised through the gears, nice relaxing couple of days off. What’s your assessment?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it’s just one day off, not a couple. But, yeah, I didn’t want to get broken in the first game. But she started very solid, served very well. Besides that breakpoint that I lost on my serve, I didn’t face another one throughout the match, so I was quite pleased about that.
Yeah, overall I think she can be a dangerous player on grass, this surface, and has proved that before. Even though we played a long time ago, it was a three‑set match. Going into this one I knew that I had to be there.
I thought I did a good job of maintaining my focus until the end.

Q. Were you aware that David Beckham was the only person in the Royal Box who saw virtually all of your match? Are you inspired by stars from other sports or whether you learn from them?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I respect so many athletes in different sports. I think we can all really relate to each other’s profession, even though all the sports are quite different in terms of the training. But at the end of the day the commitments and sacrifices in terms of being an athlete are similar.
I always feel like I really understand and actually get star struck more when I’m around athletes that have done incredible things in their career rather than maybe musicians or other professions.

Q. Would he be someone you’d be star struck by?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’ve actually met him a couple times at different events in L.A. and in London. I’ve met him before.

Q. What is it like to chat with him like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, he’s a great guy. I mean, besides being an incredible football player, he has so much that he’s done in his career, having a family, maintaining so many things off the court. Really nice person to chat to.
We’re not best buddies or anything, but it’s nice to be able to say hello and congratulate each other on achievements we’ve had in our careers and so on.

Q. Sachin Tendulkar was the other person who came in at the same time as David. Do you know who Sachin is?

Q. How difficult is trying to do the French Open/Wimbledon double?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, this is only my second time trying to do that. Of course, the transition, it’s no secret, it’s very difficult. But I’m quite happy with the way I’ve gone about things so far.
You never know what to expect. Each match poses its different challenges. I’m happy I’ve gone further than last year, erasing those memories and trying to form new ones.

Q. They’ve installed a gate on Centre Court so that the players can’t climb up onto the box when they celebrate. What do you think of that? Do you think that will ruin a Wimbledon tradition?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I heard you can open the gate. Gates usually open also.

Q. So you’re not worried?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’ll worry about it if it happens. That will be a great problem to have.

Q. You spoke a moment ago about observing other athletes. One of the common dominators of course is rituals and superstitions. What are some of yours, if you had to pick the ones you’ve had during your career, that stand out the most in your routine?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think it’s more of a routine rather than superstitions. I mean, I’ve been on the tour for so long. I’m experienced enough to know what works for me in terms of preparation and the way I go about things minutes before the match, hours before, nights before, whether it’s spending time with your team or having a chitchat right before with your coach as you go on.
I wouldn’t say they’re superstitions but more of rituals and routines that I’ve carried out, yeah, throughout many years.

Q. Are there other ones we could list that we see on the court and what they mean to you?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think I always take a few seconds in between the points and go back and kind of fiddle around with my strings. I think it’s always nice when you’re in front of thousands of people, whether you’re in a good moment or bad moment, to kind of gather your thoughts. That’s sort of something I’ve done for a really long time. I keep doing it, yeah.

Q. When you reel off the number of games today, it looks like you’re able to flip on a switch. Mentally is it a case of you saying, Okay, I’m really going to turn it on at this point?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, you kind of have to. On grass things happen much quicker than maybe on other surfaces. You find yourself down a break. She served extremely well in the beginning. Didn’t read her serve.
As I started getting more balls back, getting myself back in position, I felt like she had to go for a little bit more on her first serve and had a little more pressure, whereas in the beginning of the set she got a lot of free points. That automatically gives her a lot of confidence when she steps on the line.
Those are the types of things you try to impose on your opponent if you’re not feeling that energy, or maybe a step too slow to the ball. It’s a few little things that make the big difference in the end.

Q. Did you speak to David Beckham today?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, I have not.

Q. Is there one ultimate sports star you have met who made you star struck or one that you would like to meet?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I randomly met Michael Jordan at a private airport. I don’t even know why. I didn’t grow up watching so much basketball. I was like, Wow, that’s cool.
I don’t really know the reason, but I think of all his success on and off the court, it’s great to meet someone like that. He recognized me, which is pretty cool I thought back in the day.

Q. Were you jittery meeting him, palms sweating?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I do get quite shy. So, yeah, I might have been.

Q. Do you feel like a jock in the American sense of that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Very American sense (laughter).
I don’t think so. Define ‘jock.’

Q. Someone really into their sport, walks around with an aura of that, being someone who dominates others on the playing field, carries that into the rest of life?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m not that type of person, no. I hope not. It sounds awful (laughter).

Q. When you say the little things you have that help you prepare for matches, is there anything specific to Wimbledon that you do when you come here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, not really. I don’t like to categorize each tournament. I like to go about my business as it’s any other day.
Just because I’m in London or Paris, playing the French or Wimbledon, I like to keep those routines the same. I think that helps you mentally because it doesn’t matter if you’re playing a smaller tournament or a Grand Slam, you know what works for you and you try to carry that through.

Q. You’ve had your shop and the businesses. Do those things help, having extra things to do outside of tennis?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I like working on different projects. I like being involved in things that I’m passionate about. Something that I started a couple years ago to see my own little candy shop in the Village for a few days, it makes me happy, makes me smile. I enjoy seeing my fans for a little bit of time there, see who pops in, how it’s doing.
Yeah, it’s been great. I’ve worked on it for the last couple of months and during the French. That was something I was doing once I got back in the hotel room, working on the designs, the layout.
Once I got here, went into an old hairdresser’s salon and kind of turned from seeing something that didn’t have much inside to forming a little shop is always really fun and creative.

Q. Back to the French Open/Wimbledon double. What are the challenges? It’s been quite a while since someone on the women’s side has accomplished that feat.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: A Grand Slam stage, when you’re playing for two weeks, seven matches within those two weeks, you’re always kind of rolling with each round. You’re going to the next one.
Once you get to another one, one of the toughest things is you start from scratch, you start from the first match. Mentally that’s always, you know, a bit more difficult because you achieve some great success, then you get on the train, come here, and right away the mentality switches that I’ve got to start from the first round on. You don’t get any free points or any byes.
That’s always a quick switch that you need to make mentally. Physically you know the physical aspects of the surface, they’re much tougher than they were many years ago. That transition has always been quite tough for me.
Every year I try to maybe find a better formula towards my body and what will get me enough rest and enough practice and matches and all that.

Q. Have you changed anything up this year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No. Actually I usually played maybe an XO match. But this year it was just too much. It was such a quick turnaround, I didn’t really have time. I actually came in and played a couple practice matches with some girls. Other than that, not really.

Q. The shop, has it gone as well as you hoped? Am I right in thinking it’s kind of a pop‑up thing?

Q. It’s going to vanish?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t like the word ‘vanish.’ Sounds like something from Harry Potter. I love Harry Potter. It’s definitely a pop‑up shop. It’s running through Wimbledon. Maybe it will be back next year. Depends on the location that we can get.

Q. Do you credit your top performance lately to being happy in your personal life?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think it’s always nice to have a great balance. What you do on the court and off the court, they’re very different. But it’s great to have the right balance because ultimately a career only lasts for so many years, especially for a woman. It’s definitely nice to feel like you’re mentally happy out there when you’re on the court.

Q. At the end of week one here, what are the things you’re most pleased with in your game as you move into week two?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I’m pleased I’m not out of the tournament like I was last year. I’m pleased that I’ve gone three good matches in. I feel like I improved with every match.
I started the first one off a little nervous, which was expected. Once I got through that, I feel like I’ve elevated my game.
I feel like I’m serving better, especially today. I didn’t face a breakpoint after the first game. Like I said, it’s really the footwork, little things, imposing yourself out there. It can change very quickly on the grass. If you’re aware of it, it’s much easier.