Wimbledon Pre-Tournament Interview

Q. You look photo‑shoot ready.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I just did a whole ESPN thing. I apologize.

Q. I know you don’t do that for us.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, why? I love to look good for you guys (laughter). I got my hair curled and everything.

Q. How are you feeling with the grass season? How does it feel to have more time for here?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, well, it was a little bit of a different situation. I was hoping I could play a warmup tournament leading up to this. But due to the circumstances, the way I was feeling, actually I had to go back home and do some tests, run through all that. It took a little while for me to really refresh and recover and, yeah, give myself just a chance to feel good again and get back to work.
I planned on going to Florida. But then I needed to do a few things back in California for my health. Then just came here as soon as I got the green light to start the training. It’s been a really good 10 days. To finally have that energy, I think that’s quite important as an athlete. But, yeah, despite not playing an event, I’ve played a few practice matches, played a practice match in Eastbourne. It’s been going well so far.

Q. What was going on with your health?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think you guys saw how I was. I’m much better now, thankfully.

Q. Was it more serious than you may have led on? You’re careful to talk about your health in Paris. Going home and taking tests sounds serious.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it’s not something that I like to talk about because I never like to set up an excuse for anything that I do. I was going through it and I was trying to kind of battle every symptom that I had for a week or so during the French Open, and a few days before. Once I got healthy and kind of got the green light to just start training, that was my goal. It was great to be able to be on the court and not have to cough or blow my nose a hundred times and all those things. It’s kind of annoying when you’re just trying to become a great tennis player. Going through that, it’s been a great last couple of weeks.

Q. You play a girl now called Jo Konta. What do you know about her?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: We never played against each other before. That’s always tricky in the first round of a Grand Slam. A British wild card. Saw a couple of her matches in Eastbourne, was it, last week where she had a good result in between my practices. That was good to have a little bit of a look at her game, see how she plays. Ultimately, that’s not extremely important, as you just want to go out and try to figure out things from your end as fast as you can.

Q. How much is the experience starting Wimbledon without the best preparation you wanted to?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: You have to. Because I think health always comes first, you have to make decisions based on that. Wimbledon is extremely important for any tennis player. But not as important as your body and the way you feel, the way that you need to be when you wake up in the morning to train, to compete at the best level here. So putting all those things aside, I had to make the decision that was best for me.

Q. Knowing as you do what it takes to win all four majors, what are your thoughts on Serena having won the first two, and now coming to Wimbledon, perhaps coming to the US Open with a chance, at her age, with her game at this level, to do something we almost never see all in one year?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, absolutely. She’s certainly the player to beat. With all the confidence in the world having won the last three majors, not just the two in this year. I think those results speak for herself, and she’s certainly the one to beat.

Q. What is most remarkable to you about the level of her game at this age and this sustained?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it always comes down to consistency. It’s such a fine line. It’s one thing to do it at one event or two events, but in order to have that level to be able to do it consistently I think is pretty incredible.

Q. I know you said this year you were aiming for a lead‑up tournament. Typically you don’t play one. What is the rationale for that preparation for Wimbledon? How do you try to get match practice on a surface that’s so different straight after the French?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, because I lost earlier this year, and you had the extra week, so it just gives you another week to have, I guess, a tournament if you’re able to. So that’s the rationality behind it. Whereas the years before, it was only two weeks, and I was in the final of the French Open. It just, I mean, didn’t make much sense.

Q. How do you get the preparation? How do you typically prepare?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Train, play matches, do as much as you can, yeah.

Q. Hitting partner?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I have a hitting partner. I’ve hit with some girls over the last week as well.

Q. Do you see your career as a pre‑2008 shoulder surgery and post‑2008 shoulder surgery, do you see it as two different segments, or do you see it as a unified kind of career for yourself so far?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think mentally I do a little bit. I understand or I see things a little bit differently over 2008 than I saw it before as far as my expectations and the reality, I guess how I feel after tough matches or losing. The perspective a little bit, I think when you’re out of the game for a while, you’re really given that chance to think how fortunate you are when you feel that you just had a bad practice, and actually it’s great to just have a bad practice, whereas I was not practicing at all. I think mentally from that perspective, I look at things much differently than before.

Q. In women’s sport there’s sometimes too much emphasis on beauty when it comes to promoting women’s sport. Do you think that’s a good thing or do you ever think there’s too much emphasis on that side and not on the other aspects of women’s sport?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, to be quite honest, I think it’s not something that we’re able to control. It’s not something that we should control because our job is not that. Our job is to be professional athletes and to work our best, to become the best that we can be, raise our standards, raise our level, not anything else. Whatever people speak about, those are words. You can either accept it or you can be bothered by it. Still at the end of the day that’s not your job. Your job is to be a professional tennis player.

Q. In terms of promoting the sport, doing photo shoots, do you ever feel that you want to put a line between it that emphasizes strength and other stuff and beauty?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it’s a combination of everything. I think women getting their hair done and getting their makeup done, those photo shoots are playing a different role that are so far from reality than anything else.
You’re able to be in these beautiful pieces that have been worked on for hours by coutures around the world, and you’re able to be in front of a camera or photographer that’s world renowned. Those are just experiences. They’re moments that are either fun or sometimes a little bit boring. Sometimes you just have to get through them. But at the end of the day, they are strong, they are beautiful. That’s what women all represent.

Q. Nowadays it’s a lot easier for players to scout future opponents by YouTube or something else. You saw Johanna play in Eastbourne last week. Will you have your coaches watch videos for extra tactics?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t like to make things complicated. I don’t think they should be more complicated than things already are. If you’re able to watch a few things, pick up some patterns, that’s obviously a coach’s job.